Voices of the Hainan Rainforest: Discover Asian Small-clawed Otters in Diaoluoshan Nature Reserve

By / SSTV / Updated: 12:57,04-December-2021

Abundant rain and a characteristic geomorphic structure endow Diaoluoshan nature reserve with rich water resources. In Diaoluoshan nature reserve, there are 12 large and small rivers and countless streams. It is one of the habitats for the Asian small-clawed otter, which is a national second-class protected species that mainly feeds on fish, shrimps and crabs.

“They live near rivers, streams and the ditches because they feed on crabs and fish. We plan to walk along the ditch or the river. According to the line transect survey, if we find feces along the transect line, we would use GPS to position the point. We’ll also install an infrared camera to take pictures, ” Luo Fanqiang, chief of Diaoluoshan mountain animal survey team said.

In past years, the researchers had walked along a lot of transect lines, replaced infrared camera batteries and storage cards again and again, and checked countless pictures day after day. Finally, otter feces found in 2017 gave them hope to continue their search. 

Luo Fanqiang explained that otters usually defecate on stones to declare a territory. They delineate their territories by feces.

At 4:30 a.m. on December 24th, 2017, the infrared camera finally captured the figure of the Asian small-clawed otter. The efforts of Luo Fanqiang and his colleagues were all worth it at that moment. At present, the monitoring of the otters is still ongoing. Up to now, five Asian small-clawed otters have been found in Hainan, all of which appeared on Diaolashan nature reserve.

“Abundant water resources generate rich fish and shrimps, which is suitable for otters' survival,” said Luo Fanqiang.

Diaoluoshan is one of the most rare primitive tropical rainforest areas in China. It has  recorded 3 national first-class protected plant species and 29 national second-class protected plant species. It has 360 species of vertebrates, 37 of which are unique to Hainan. Five species of national first-class protected animals are found there including the Clouded Leopard, Hainan Peacock-pheasant and Common Water Monitor. There are 40 species of national second-class protected animals, such as macaques and Asian Small-clawed Otters.

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