Biodiversity Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (8): 840-846.doi: 10.17520/biods.2017130

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Article     Next Article

The current status and conservation of otters on the coastal islands of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China

Fei Li1, Xi Zheng1, Huarong Zhang2, Jianhuan Yang1, Bosco Pui Lok Chan1, *()   

  1. 1 Kadoorie Conservation China, Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, Hong Kong 999077
    2 Flora Conservation Department, Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, Hong Kong 999077
  • Received:2017-05-02 Accepted:2017-06-15 Online:2017-08-31
  • Pui Lok Chan Bosco

Otters are rare and threatened in China, but both research and conservation efforts on this specialized group of mammals are largely overlooked. To provide baseline information on the current conservation status of otters in coastal Guangdong Province, we conducted rapid otter surveys using semi-structured interviews, transects, camera-trapping surveys, and a molecular study of the coastal islands of Zhuhai City between September 2016 and March 2017. Data collected suggested a dramatic decline of otter populations and the local extirpation of otters was reported on several islands. The discovery of a remnant population of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) on Hengqin Island provides hopes for the recovery of this species in South China. Nonetheless, the future of Hengqin’s otter is at stake due to the rapid urbanization of suitable habitats for economic development. To ensure its continual survival, critical habitats on Hengqin Island should be strictly protected as soon as possible. Furthermore, systematic, otter-specific surveys should be conducted in other coastal areas of China, to best devise a national otter conservation plan.

Key words: Eurasian otter, species conservation, Pearl River Estuary, Hengqin Island, population survey

Fig. 1

Otter survey sites on coastal islands of Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China"

Table 1

Basic information of otter survey sites in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China"

Area (km2)
Highest elevation (m)
No. of effective respondents
样线 Transect line
数量 No. 总长度 Total length (m)
三灶岛 Sanzao Is. 78.00 307 7 8 4,263
横琴岛 Hengqin Is. 47.00 458 16 15 26,217
高栏岛 Gaolan Is. 34.20 428 8 3 2,180
淇澳岛 Qi’ao Is. 15.92 185 6 5 5,980
荷包岛 Hebao Is. 12.00 386 4 3 4,335
大杧岛 Damang Is. 5.20 268 2 1 532
三角山岛 Sanjiaoshan Is. 0.82 142 0 0 0
横洲 Hengzhou Is. 0.70 113 0 3 2,293
獭洲 Tazhou Is. 0.12 84 0 1 395
交杯岛 Jiaobei Is. 0.08 47 0 2 199
总计 Total 43 41 46,394

Fig. 2

Interview result of changes in otter populations on coastal islands of Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China"

Fig. 3

NJtree showing the phylogenetic relationships among spraint samples and 11 otter species using partial Cyt b fragment (Otter H1 and Otter H2 represent Zhuhai samples)"

Fig. 4

Daily activity pattern of Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) on Hengqin Island, Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China"

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