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Zoology, University of Hohenheim PO Box 700562, D-70593 Stuttgart,
A cooperative project on otters of West Java undertaken by the Indonesian Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA) and Asian Wetland Bureau- Indonesia is nearing completion. Fieldwork was carried out and data collected in 15 representative wetland areas between July 1993 and May 1994 to determine which otter species occur, and their distribution and habitat use in West Java. Final reports are in preparation and will be available by the end of this year (1994).
Two otter species, the Asian Small-clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea and Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata occur on Java. A. cinerea occurs in a range of habitats from coastal and other lowland wetland types up to 2000 metres above sea-level, whereas L. perspicillata is restricted to coastal wetlands. Both species are threatened by wetland pollution, especially by the misuse of pesticides in agriculture and aquaculture, by conversion of natural habitats and, to a lesser extent, by hunting. The Smooth-coated Otter is especially endangered, with only a few small, isolated populations remaining. One main scientific question, the possible occurrence on Java of Hairy-nosed Otter Lutra sumatrana and Eurasian Otter Lutra /M/ra,both very rare in Southeast Asia, was answered: earlier records of Lutra lutra and Lutra sumatrana for Java were found to have been misidentifications, and during field work and museum collection analyses no evidence of either of these two species was found.
Both the otter species that do occur play a significant role in everyday farming life in West Java: A. cinerea has been found to be a predator of certain rice-field pests, but both species also have bad reputations for raiding fresh-water and brackish-water fishponds. Predation by otters may locally severely affect small-farming pond schemes, but during this survey traditional methods which prevent otters from pond-raiding without causing them harm were observed. During the West Javan Otter Project a total of 85 people from Indonesia, including forestry officers and rangers, three scientists and three students were trained in otter survey techniques.
Another major step towards raising awareness and attention for the species in Indonesia was the implementation of a first national symposium on otters. On 7 April 1994, about 150 participants gathered in Bogor, West Java, for the "First Symposium on Otters in Indonesia"; they included key government officials from nature conservation departments and agencies, mammalogists, fisheries and agriculture experts, NGO representatives, university students and other interested parties. Ten contributions were presented and discussed by the participants, all of which were observed and well-documented by the Indonesian press, radio and TV. Topics ranged from the natural history of Indonesian otters to applied problems such as wetland pollution and conversion, fishpond raiding, otters as pest control, rearing otters in zoos, otters as bioindicators, nature conservation efforts, conservation legislation and otter hunting.
One of the most important outcome of the Symposium was the proposal that all four otter species be protected under Indonesian law, and this proposal was presented to the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the authority responsible for species conservation legislation. At the time of writing, the Minister of Forestry has just agreed to the legal protection of all otter species in Indonesia, The Proceedings of the First Symposium on Otters in Indonesia have been published in Indonesian with English abstracts and are available from AWB-Indonesia (PHPA & AWB-Indonesia 1994).
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS - The West Javan Otter Project received joint support from Artists United for Nature, German Agency for Technical Cooperation - Flanking Programme for Tropical Ecology (GTZ-TOB), Vater-und-Sohn Eiselen Stiftung, Leica Camera GmbH, Kodak, Metropolitan Zoo Toronto, Carl Zeiss, Aktion Fischotterschutz, British Airways Assisting Nature Conservation, Singapore Airlines, University of Hohenheim, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna and Zoological Society for the Conservation of Populations and Species. The symposium was generously supported by Artists United for Nature, the Indonesian Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA) and Asian Wetland Bureau-Indonesia. The authors are grateful to everybody who was so supportive during field and office work and to Rosie and Mike Ounsted for comments and editing.
The following conclusions have been translated from a legal document in the Indonesian language. In the event of disputed interpretations, the Indonesian version will always be the final version [translation by Roland Melisch, Asian Wetland Bureau-Indonesia]
CONCLUSIONS OF THE FIRST SYMPOSIUM ON OTTERS IN INDONESIA
The participants of the First Symposium on Otters in Indonesia, which took place on Thursday, 7 April 1994 at Jalan Juanda 15 in Bogor, West Java, agreed the following conclusions:
B. THREATS TO OTTER SURVIVAL
Otters are threatened because:
C. THE ROLE OF OTTERS IN THE ECOSYSTEM AND THEIR BENEFITS FOR THE PEOPLE
Signed on behalf of the participants by the Director of Nature Conservation, Dwiatmo Siswomartono
Bogor, 7 April 1994
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