Revenge photography is a thing. I should know. I took photos of this abandoned shoe on a dirt track in Corbett NP with a sense of vengeance. I blamed it for sitting in the middle of a track, and for being lost in a place where nobody walks. I was raging actually at the Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) which had loped across the river bank and into hiding below an overhang without giving me a chance to photograph it. It is a threatened species, listed vulnerable by IUCN, and protected as a schedule 1 species in CITES. Each one of them otter know that it is its a duty to pose for a photo, not run for cover.

This post appears on schedule while I travel.

Otter surprise

It was a gloomy morning. The sky was completely overcast but it refused to rain. In the bad light we stood in the open jeep next to a stream and watched birds. There was something not quite right about the birds I was seeing. I don’t have a pair of binoculars, so I borrowed The Family’s to look at the pair of dark shapes I was seeing at the far bank of the stream. I focussed and scanned to find them, and nearly fell off the jeep. They weren’t ducks, they were otters. They dived and one of them came back up with a fish. When I babbled about all this, The Family reclaimed her binocs. The jeep driver, Hemant, also pulled out his own pair. With my 1200 mm zoom at extreme range, the otters were a splotch in the photo.

This must be the smooth-coated otter, Lutrogale perspicillata. It survives in the floodplains of the Brahmaputra largely because it is the last undammed river in this region. As long as India and China don’t agree on river water sharing, and neither party builds a dam pre-emptively, L. perspicillata are safe inside this protected area. In the rest of its range throughout Southeast Asia, this otter is classed as vulnerable because of habitat loss and indiscriminate slaughter by fishing folk who see it as a rival for its fish.

A bit further on was another pleasant surprise. On a sand bank a small family of otters was basking in the sun. There is probably an underwater entrance which leads to the hollow partly obscured by the several otters sleeping near it. These individuals were probably resting after a morning’s feeding, but they were not asleep. They would often raise their necks, look around, before slumping on the ground again. Fishing is hard work, after all.