Kaziranga National Park Welcomes Two New Mammalian Species: Binturong and Small-Clawed Otter

Kaziranga National Park Welcomes Two New Mammalian Species: Binturong and Small-Clawed Otter

Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam, known for its one-horned rhinoceros population, recently welcomed two new mammalian species, contributing to its already diverse wildlife. The newcomers are the binturong and the small-clawed otter, both protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

New Residents Identified:

During a recent enumeration, authorities overseeing the rhino habitat identified these new species, bringing the total mammalian count in the 1,302 sq. km reserve to 37. The elusive binturong was spotted in a photograph during a migratory bird count, while the small-clawed otter was sighted after a training program for officers and frontline staff.

Details about the Binturong:

The binturong, the largest civet in India, is colloquially known as the bearcat. The photograph of this newcomer was captured on January 10 during the fifth migratory bird count in the reserve, thanks to tour guide Chirantanu Saikia.

Details about the Small-Clawed Otter:

The small-clawed otter, recognized as the world’s smallest otter species, was photographed by Arun Vignesh, the park’s divisional forest officer. A joint training program by the Wildlife Institute of India and the Assam Forest Department facilitated the sighting of this otter, known for its partially webbed feet and short claws.

Habitat and Distribution of the Small-Clawed Otter:

Also known as the Asian small-clawed otter, this mammal has a broad distribution range extending from India to Southeast Asia and southern China. In India, it predominantly inhabits protected areas in West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and certain regions of Kerala within the Western Ghats. They thrive in freshwater habitats, relying on a diet of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Notable Absence and Records:

Recent records show the absence of the small-clawed otter in the western Himalayas and parts of Odisha, despite previous documentation in these regions.

Diverse Wildlife at Kaziranga:

Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve house a rich array of mammalian species, including the Indian wild boar, Indian gaur, sambar, hoolock or white-browed gibbon, Gangetic dolphin, capped langur or leaf monkey, sloth bear, leopard, and the jackal. The addition of the binturong and small-clawed otter further enhances the park’s biodiversity.