By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, January 21: He and two other babies were floating on hyacinth leaves during the floods in September 2013 when they were rescued by local fishermen.
After rescuing, the fishermen took the babies to Dahgaon, one of the fringe villages of Kaziranga tiol Park. Later, after getting information about the rescue, forest officials took their custody and handed them over to the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC).
The CWRC team realised that the three babies were yet to open their eyes and they need intense care.
Unfortutely, over the course of the next few months, two of the three babies succumbed.
The only surviving baby was med Oliver by the CWRC team.
On January 18 last, Oliver – the small clawed otter – was released in Kaziranga tiol Park, after two years of hand–raising by the CWRC which ensured that he was given proper care so that he could be released into the wild. In order to achieve that, the CWRC team had introduced Oliver to a makeshift waterbody where he was gradually allowed to fish and develops its tural instincts. Apart from this, he was milk fed and nursed.
Soon, the instinctive behavioural changes were there for all to see and Oliver was able to swim and catch fish too. “On October 25, 2014, a radio transmitter was implanted on the male otter by the team of Intertiol Fund for Animal Welfare–Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW–WTI) veteririans lead by Dr Bhupen Sarma of College of Veteriry Science, Assam. The otter recovered well after the surgery and resumed his normal routine. It was then decided that the time was right to release the otter to its tural surroundings,” said Dr Rathin Burman, Deputy Director, WTI.
Filly, it was decided by the Kaziranga authority and IFAW–WTI team on CWRC that the otter would be released on January 18. Following the protocol of soft release, the otter was released in presence of SK Seal Sarma, Divisiol Forest Officer and Rabindra Sarma, Research Officer, Kaziranga NP and the IFAW–WTI team led by Dr Rathin Barman. After the release, a team of IFAW–WTI field biologists will monitor the 16–month–old otter to ensure his well–being in the wild.
While CWRC has rehabilitated several animals in the past, this is the first incident of hand raised otter being released back into the wild by the CWRC.
The CWRC team consisting of veteririans, field biologists and animal keepers were at the release site to ensure that the entire operation went on smoothly on Sunday last.
“It is another achievement for the IFAW–WTI run CWRC. We have released several large mammals, but this is one is special because it proves that we are dedicated to the welfare of all wild animals and not just the flagship species,” said Ian Robinson, vice president, Intertiol Operations, IFAW–WTI.
“The small clawed otter has been released after implanting a radio transmitter at Baruntika Beel of Kaziranga tiol Park through our joint collaboration with IFAW– WTI team. The team will monitor the animal’s behaviour and interaction with the ture for a period of time,” said, S K Seal Sarma, DFO, Kaziranga tiol Park.
As on today, the male small clawed otter of CWRC which was soft released in the stream near Baruntika forest camp in the central range of Kaziranga tiol Park, is exploring the wilderness of Kaziranga tiol park and getting accustomed to ture too.