2015 have been a rather eventful year for the otters in Singapore. The appearance of three smooth-coated otter pups born and raised in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park (Apr 2015) got many Singaporeans excited as people were astounded by the fact that they were able to enjoy the sight of wild otters in an urban park right smack in the heartlands of Singapore. The otters’ presence in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park was also a testament to the efforts of various government agencies in cleaning up the Kallang river in the late 20th century and maintaining a beautiful and clean river these days (The Kallang River flows from Peirce Reservoir to Marina Reservoir and into the sea through Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park).
Other notable events include the otters being featured on television. Wild City, a two-part documentary series revealing the hidden and urban wildlife of Singapore, narrated by the natural history legend Sir David Attenborough, featured smooth-coated otters in the wild (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve) and in the urban (Marina Bay – Gardens by the Bay). *You can catch Wild City online at: www.wildcity.tv * The otters were also featured on Channel 5’s Talking Point as well as Channel 8’s Hello Singapore (狮城有约), highlighting the need to love and protect the otters of Singapore.
One otter was also baited and hooked by an illegal angler in October 2015. Singaporeans were outraged and rallied to find the suspect on Facebook and the culprit eventually came forward to the police.
All the limelight on the smooth-coated otters may lead people to think that there is only one species of otter in Singapore. However, there are in fact two species that can be found here. They are the smooth-coated otters, and the more elusive Asian small-clawed otters. The population of smooth-coated otters in Singapore have been growing in the past decade, and their appearances in urban environments certainly have resulted in an increase in the public’s awareness of them. Little research has been done on the other species, the Asian small-clawed otters and they may still likely be found in Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. They are harder to spot because they are nocturnal and can be found only in these few areas.
Here is an infographic that showcases the characteristics of both otter species of Singapore as well as the general locations that they can be found in.
Do remember that if you see wild otters, do follow the guidelines shown below for a pleasant experience for both you and the otters. We would also greatly appreciate if you could record your sightings at http://mammal.sivasothi.com/ The information obtained will be very helpful for on-going research on the otters of Singapore.