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Small-Clawed Otter Spotted at Kaziranga National Park

22 Jan, 2024

Binturong and Small-Clawed Otter Spotted at Kaziranga National Park

Great news for Kaziranga National Park in Assam as the recent survey introduced the addition of two new mammalian species within the protected area and the Project Tiger site. The new species were the Binturong ( Arctictis binturong) and the small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus) which brings the total number of mammal species in the park to 37.

The 5th waterbird census that occurred on the 9th and 10th of January was conducted across 115 water bodies spanning around 3 divisions of the reserve which led to the discovery of two new species in the Kaziranga National Park. The initiative was supported by volunteers from over 30 educational institutions, NGOs, and several other organizations, making it one of the greatest initiatives.

About Kaziranga’ Wildlife in Assam

The Kaziranga region, which is acknowledged as one of India's most significant wildlife tourism destinations, is largely composed of grasslands and water features. The Kaziranga Tiger Reserve is topped by Big Five mammals which include the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, Wild water buffalo, and the eastern swamp deer.

The other mammals which add to the list of mammals found at Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve include the Indian wild boar, Indian gaur, sambar, white-browed gibbon, Gangetic dolphin, capped langur, sloth bear, leopard, and jackal. Now two new species are added to the list which are Binturong and the small-clawed otter.

Findings / Additions of New Species in the Kaziranga National Park

The first discovery is of exclusive Binturong, also known as the bearcat (‘Young’ in Assamese). Binturong is a nocturnal, secretive and tree-dwelling mammal which also carries the title of largest civet in India. This mammal is also registered under Schedule I protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The first sighting was captured on January 10th by Chiratanu Saikia, a tour guide and official photographer of Seven Sisters Tours & Travel, during the 5th waterbird census.

The second discovery involves the addition of an adorable small-clawed otter which is also known as the Asian small-clawed otter. The sighting was confirmed during the training program for officers and frontline staff conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India and the Assam Forest Department within Kaziranga Tiger Reserve. Dr. SA Hussain, an otter expert and former scientist of the Wildlife Institute of India identified the small-clawed otter from the photograph taken by DFO Arun Vignesh, EAWL.

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