VISAKHAPATNAM: Smooth-coated otters locally known as water dogs have been spotted for the first time at Kondakarla Ava of Atchutapuram Mandal in Visakhapatnam. A survey was initiated, a few months ago, by the East Coast Conservation Team and Green Paw to document the presence of the threatened mammals in Visakhapatnam, at Kondakarla Ava lake. The social and sign survey conducted at Kondakarla Ava lake, recorded indirect evidence of otters and their conflict with fishermen.
The team led by Pranav also conducted a camera trap exercise that captured the first photographic evidence of otters in the city. This was the first-ever photographic record of a Smooth-Coated otter in Visakhapatnam district and North Andhra Pradesh.
Speaking to TNIE, Pranav Tamarapallim, the founder of ECCT and Project Manager of Green Paw explained, “Citizens of Kondakarla and surrounding villages were very supportive of the study and provided prompt information and help.
Citizens showed fascination about the fishing skills and abilities of otters and their smartness.” He also said that fishermen enthusiastically explained how good swimmers the otters are. The fishermen told us that they call them “Neeti Pilli” in Telugu, which translates to water cat while otters are called “Yeti kukka” in Godavari and Krishna river delta, which translates to river dogs. While they enjoy seeing the otters once in a while, the fishermen also complain about losses they incur because of them.
“The otters not only destroy the traditional fishing traps of fishermen but they also steal the fish. Besides loss of fish, they damage traps Some fishermen even hold a grudge against the otters and try to harm them. Because of the conflict, otters have become completely nocturnal in this habitat to avoid any sort of human interaction,” Pranav explained.