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1 March 2023 Population distribution and causes of mortality of smooth-coated otters, Lutrogale perspicillata, in Singapore
Anusha Shivram, N. Sivasothi, Chia-Da Hsu, Karen E. Hodges
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Smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) were transient in Singapore before one resident family group was observed in 1998, presumably having recolonized from Peninsular Malaysia. A population survey in 2017 revealed a minimum of 11 groups and 79 individuals. Since then, movements of otter groups within urban areas have led to increasing numbers of human–otter encounters, including conflicts. We determined the current abundance, population structure, and distribution of smooth-coated otters in Singapore. We assessed seven sampling zones nationwide through verified sighting records and social media. Mortality records from 2019 to 2021 were sourced from the Otter Working Group and Wildlife Reserves Singapore. In early 2021, there were a minimum of 17 groups and 170 individuals. Groups ranged from 2 to 24 individuals. Smooth-coated otters occupy coastal areas, waterways, reservoirs, and sites within the city center in urban gardens and ponds. Following territorial conflicts at waterways, smooth-coated otter groups moved into the urban matrix. Vehicle collisions are the main cause of mortality and are frequent at dams separating freshwater and coastal habitats. While there is a clear increase in smooth-coated otter numbers since 2017, there remain multiple natural and human-caused threats to otter persistence.

Anusha Shivram, N. Sivasothi, Chia-Da Hsu, and Karen E. Hodges "Population distribution and causes of mortality of smooth-coated otters, Lutrogale perspicillata, in Singapore," Journal of Mammalogy 104(3), 496-508, (1 March 2023).
Received: 10 May 2022; Accepted: 5 January 2023; Published: 1 March 2023
citizen science
human–wildlife conflict
Lutrogale perspicillata
territorial conflict
urban ecology
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