IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


16th March, 2023 Environment

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Context: The first photographic record of an elusive semi-aquatic carnivorous mammal has indicated that not all is lost for a Jammu and Kashmir stream.



  • A trio of scientists from the University of Jammu’s Institute of Mountain Environment trapped three Eurasian otters in the Neeru stream of the Chenab catchment.
  • Apart from putting an end to doubts about the animal’s presence in the upper Chenab catchment, their findings have confirmed that some stretches of the Neeru remain unpolluted.
    • The Neeru is a tributary of the Chenab river.
    • Since the Eurasian otter — classified as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List — is regarded as a flagship species and indicator of high-quality aquatic habitats, its presence is encouraging for the health of the Neeru stream.

About Eurasian Otter:


  • Kingdom :Animalia
  • Phylum :Chordata
  • Class :  Mammalia
  • Order :Carnivora
  • Family :Mustelidae
  • Genus :Lutra
  • Species :lutra
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN : Near threatened
    • IWPA : Schedule II
    • CITES : Appendix I


  • The Eurasian otter has one of the widest distributions of all palaearctic mammals.
  • Its range covers parts of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • In India, it occurs in northern, northeast and southern India. Formerly widely distributed in Japan, it is now believed to be extinct there.

Characteristics, Habitat and Behaviour:

  • The Eurasian otter has sleek brown fur, which is often paler on the underside and a long lithe body with a thick tail and short legs.
  • Adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle include webbed feet, the ability to close the small ears and the nose when under water, and very dense, short fur that traps a layer of air to insulate the animal
  • The Eurasian otter lives in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including highland and lowland lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, swamp forests and coastal areas independent of their size, origin or latitude
  • In the Indian sub-continent, Eurasian otters occur in cold hill and mountain streams. During summer (April - June) in the Himalayas, they may ascend up to 3,660 m.

Major Threats:

  • Habitat destruction due to developmental activities such as canalization of rivers, removal of bank side vegetation, dam construction, draining of wetlands and aquaculture activities.
  • Decrease in prey species due to acidification of rivers and lakes.
  • Poaching for pelt.
  • Coastal populations are vulnerable to oil spills, while the inland populations are vulnerable to organic pollution by nitrate fertilizers, untreated sewage, or farm slurry.
  • A potential risk comes from traps designed to kill other species, especially underwater cages constructed to drown muskrats.


Q) Which of the following statements is/are incorrect with reference to Eurasian otter?

a. It is classified as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List.

b. It is regarded as a flagship species and indicator of high-quality aquatic habitats.

  1. Only a
  2. Only b
  3. Both a and b
  4. Neither a nor b

Answer: Option 4