The Philippines hosts a population of Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus) on the Island of Palawan. Very little is known about the species and its status in the country but a decline has been reported throughout their range. The Palawan Asian small-claw otter is the only species of otters to be found in the Philippines. The declines have been attributed to several negative impacts including habitat degradation, reduction in their natural food source and poaching.
If successful management and conservation of the otters is to be achieved, it is necessary to gain an insight into the otter’s biology and ecology, this is fundamental to the success of any conservation strategy. To obtain this information LAMAVE will begin a population assessment in February 2016 to identify the otters in their natural habitat using several detection methods.
Due to the combination of low density of the population together with their nocturnal and elusive behaviour direct observations are highly impractical. For this reason the project will use field signs such as presence of spraints, dens, tracks and local knowledge to establish presence of the otters. LAMAVE will be working in collaboration with Western Palawan University and Palawan State University researchers and students to carry out the surveys as well as providing workshops and educational material for local communities. The aim of the project is to assess the population size, determine diet and feeding ecology and identify the main threats to the otter population. The results of the study will be used to determine how we can manage and protect this slowly dwindling population.
More information on previous work done by Ms. Lyca Sandrea G. Castro and her team can be found here.