WLT co-operates closely with the University of East Anglia and between 2005 and 2010 ran a joint Graduate Diploma Course in Conservation and Project Administration. Dr Diana Bell, Senior Lecturer in the Biology Department at the UEA is a Council Member of the World Land Trust (WLT) and we were astonished and delighted to receive this camera-trap footage of otters from her filmed quite close to the WLT office in East Anglia.
Camera Trap video filmed by Lee Rudd and James Stevens
Two of the students on her MSc course in Applied Ecology and Conservation, Lee Rudd and James Stevens, had been part of a small group monitoring local biodiversity with camera traps and had set these near some fresh otter spraint with great results. WLT has only one project in the UK, at Kites Hill in Gloucestershire, but unfortunately no otters on this reserve. However, various species of otters occur on several WLT-funded overseas reserves.
Not so long ago the European Otter had declined in numbers in the UK to a critical level as a result of pesticide pollution in rivers, habitat loss and hunting, both legal and illegal. However, as a result of protection and the ban on most harmful pesticides, as well as carefully controlled reintroduction programmes, their numbers are increasing. Unfortunately road casualties continue to take their toll. Otters are listed as Near Threatened by the 2008 IUCN Red List. It is heartening to know that they have a safe environment relatively close to the heart of Norwich city centre.
On the WLT-funded Chaco-Pantanal reserve in Paraguay, there are healthy populations of Giant Otter, which regularly visit the Three Giants Biological Station, owned and managed by WLT’s project partner, Guyra Paraguay. Listed as Endangered, the Giant Otter is one of the ‘three giants’ found on the reserve, the other two being Giant Armadillo and Giant Anteater.
WLT’s work with the UEA
Currently WLT is working with UEA on a rapid biodiversity assessment project in Africa, on property belonging to a WLT corporate supporter, ethical emerald miners, Gemfields. WLT and UEA have submitted a proposal to Gemfields for this work at their Kagem Mine site in Zambia. UEA’s Dr Iain Barr will lead a group of UK and Zambian researchers and field assistants surveying birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, beetles, butterflies and flora within the 10,000 acre area. Local expertise will be sought for some of the fieldwork and the Natural History Museum (London) will assist with identification of species. Two species of otter are found in Zambia: the Cape Clawless and the Spotted-necked. We hope they find them.
WLT’s CEO, John Burton, is a visiting Fellow of UEA.
Special thanks to students Lee Rudd and James Stevens, students at UEA, for allowing the use of the otter footage.