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World's only captive hairy-nosed otter gets new home
Date:6/18/2008

Arlington, Virginia (June 17, 2008) -- The world's only known hairy-nosed otter in captivity, one of the rarest and little known of otter species, got a new home and a Buddhist blessing today.

Dara, a frisky young male rescued when his mother was killed by a fisherman, was released into a large new enclosure built for him at Phnom Tamau Zoological Garden and Rescue Centre, located near Phnom Penh. The release was celebrated with a blessing by Buddhist monks, a Cambodian tradition when a family moves into a new residence. Dara, which in the Khmer language means "star" or "precious" was brought to the wildlife center in December. He had been living in a small cage since his capture.

The natural habitat for this rare species in Cambodia is the seasonally flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Great Lake. Conservation International (CI) and Cambodia's Fishery Administration are working together to extend the Kampong Prak fish sanctuary at Tonle Sap Lake up to 20,000 hectares to include vital otter habitat. The expansion includes large areas of flooded forests where at least two species of rare otters are known to exist, the hairy-nosed otter (Lutra sumatrana), and the smooth-coated otter (Lutragale perspicillata).

Due to factors such as civil war and poor infrastructure, Cambodia has retained vast areas of forest and wetlands, and almost 25 percent of the entire country is managed primarily for conservation. In neighboring countries, these natural habitats and their wildlife have been lost due to logging or agriculture. Cambodia is now a stronghold for many rare species that have been driven to extinction elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Thought to be extinct in the 1990s, the hairy-nosed otter is known to survive only in a few regions of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Sumatra. Otters in Asia are increasingly threatened by the illegal international fur trade. They are also captured for pets or kill
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Contact: Lisa Bowen
lbowen@conservation.org
703-739-5883
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert  

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