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Funding enables giant otter conservation programme

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation launched a vital campaign this week to save endangered giant otters after receiving a £10,000 grant.

The Foundation, a leading force in global animal conservation, will visit one of the few strongholds of giant otters in Cantao state park within Brazil’s rainforest where they will collect information about the native species, currently threatened by habitat loss and poachers.

The conservation programme, run by the Instituto Araguaia charity, will involve field trips and setting up camera traps to record the habits of giant otters. It will provide the first robust assessment of giant otter populations and their conservation status.

The scheme launch also coincides with the 6th birthday of Alexandra, one of the park’s pair of giant otters. Recognised by a white mark down her face, Alexandra arrived at the park with her five-year-old sister, Mora, in September 2015.

“It’s always lovely to celebrate the animals’ birthdays and the otters had an extra special portion of trout to mark the occasion,” said Debbie Porter, Animal Manager at the park.

“The otters were a great addition to YWP, Alexandra absolutely loves her food and is always the first one over to the rangers at feeding time. Mora tends to be a little more laid back but she is extremely inquisitive.”

Giant otters can grow to six feet long and consume up to 4.5 kilos of fish a day, but hunting for their luxuriant pelts almost wiped them out in the 1970’s before an international ban was put in place. The species is currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and the monitoring project will provide crucial information to help preserve numbers.

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