HOSAPETE: Watchtowers to facilitate the viewing of otters along the Tungabhadra river will soon be constructed by the Forest Department in Vijayanagara district.
The 30 km stretch of the Tungabhadra river has been declared as the state's only Otter Conservation Reserve as these semiaquatic carnivores are sighted in good numbers there. The Otter Reserve is located along the borders of Ballari, Vijayanagar and Koppal districts.
About five locations have been finalised along the river bank based on good sightings of otters. Otters come out of the water to rest on the rocks. Watching playful otters is also a rare sight. Besides a reserve for otters, the undivided Ballari district has two sloth bear sanctuaries, each at Daroji and Guidkote. The district is also home to endangered Great Indian bustard birds and yellow-throated bulbuls.
The forest officials informed that some of the watchtower points fall in the Hampi heritage management area and required permissions are being sought. "We will be writing to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Hampi circle for the necessary permissions to construct the watchtowers. The project report has been submitted to the state government," said a senior forest official from Ballari.
"The otter activity along the Tungabhadra river is good from winters to summer months. The river shores at Bukkasagara bridge, Hosapate dam and Hampi are reporting good sightings. The watchtowers will help visitors to wait for the otters to come close to the shore," the official added.
"Many people try to go close to the river shore to sight the otters. But seeing humans the otters swim into the deep waters. The watchtowers may further improve the otter sightings. The availability of fish and nesting sites are the main reason why otters are found in good numbers in these parts of the Tungabhadra river," the official explained.