Last Saturday afternoon, I attended the Parks Festival organised by the National Parks Board of Singapore. It was a 2-full day (Saturday and Sunday) event that started at 9am to 6pm at the Promenade of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park 2. There were exhibits, talks and workshops throughout the day. I was there specially to attend the talk (2pm to 3pm) by Sivasothi or Siva in short, affectionately known to many as the “OtterMan” in Singapore. He is a biologist, lecturer at the Department of Biological Science of National University of Singapore, who pioneered the otter research in Singapore since the early 90s.
Siva delivered an engaging talk about otters in general and the smooth-coated otters in Singapore, how the otters left Singapore in the 80s due to major development like land reclamation and how they returned in the late 90s when Singapore slowdown coastal activity and urban development started at Southern Johor, our “next door” neighbour. In 1998, the first pair of smooth-coated otters was sighted at the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve and subsequently, pups were also being spotted there. He shared on the various places in Singapore where otters are being sighted in the recent years and how the population has grown over the years with at least 50 otters call Singapore home.
He reminded the audience not to go near the otters and to stay a distance to watch, take videos or pictures as they are wild animals. For more on the Dos and Don’ts, refer to animal advisories by the National Parks Board of Singapore.
At the talk, Siva shared two key events on the otters in Singapore. One was about a six week old otter pup who was rescued and reunited with its family. This happened in May this year. Following is a video put together by Fast Snail, an otter enthusiast, on the rescue and the re-introduction of the otter pup back to its family. For the full story, check out the article by The Straits Times.
Another was about the territorial dispute that happened a year ago between two otter families – Bishan Otter family and Marina Otter family. Sadly, the Marina Otter family lost their Marina territory to the Bishan Otter family. The Bishan Otter family expanded their territory anticipating for the expansion of their family from five to ten. It was quite a fight, as they are wild animals, not domestic pets, they fought to survive. Following is a video captured by Fast Snail on the territorial dispute:
Wrapping up this post with this video shared by Siva at his talk and also a video that I personally like. It is a video put together a year ago by four individuals from different walks of life who connected because of their passion for otters. It is put together in celebration of SG50, Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, and our heartland otters at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. The background song is our SG50 National Day song, composed and performed by Dick Lee. Enjoy! 🙂
Following are a few of the media coverage on the otters in Singapore, some people find them cute and others find them a nuisance:
Singapore’s Celebrity Urban Otter Family – BBC News
A Day with Local Otter Watchers – AsiaOne News
Otter nuisance at Sentosa – AsiaOne News
To stay updated on the happenings of the otters in Singapore, follow the OtterWatch Facebook Page managed by Siva and team, supported by a bunch of otters enthusiasts in Singapore.
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4 thoughts on “Otter Watch in Singapore”
Interesting! Mel was at Marina Bay once and saw the entire otter family sleeping by the banks of the bay. Did not know not to approach them, he was literally a few feet from them!
That’s the Bishan Otters family who are used to humans and categorize under the “friendly” Otters. Having said that, they are still wild animals. So the advice is to watch from a distance. Watch the videos and the media articles for more info on the otters in Singapore. Follow the OtterWatch FB page.
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I’m leaning towards “cute” 😀
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