The protected river otter discovered in a watercourse near the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin construction site in Mon Desir may not be alone.
Delvert Charleau, zookeeper at the Emperor Valley Zoo, believes there is an otter population which needs to be protected.
Charleau and colleague zookeeper Walter Bonyun visited the site in response to yesterday’s Express front-page photograph, which showed an otter in the river near where bulldozers are clearing land.
It was Express photographer Trevor Watson who spotted the animal about 30 metres away from the highway segment being developed between South Oropouche Junction and the contentious Mon Desir overpass on Thursday. Watson returned to the site yesterday and took the zookeepers along.
Charleau said, “I believe we need more scientific knowledge in terms of conservation to study the area because it appears as though there is an otter population in that area. We just saw one otter in a picture. We don’t know exactly how many otters living inside that area. We need more research being done in that area, so we will know what we are about.”
Charleau suggested a reserve be created in the area to prevent people from interfering with the natural settings for the animal.
The zookeepers were unable to find any otters at the site yesterday. However, they left confident the animals will not be affected by construction of the mega road project.
“We noted that a considerable amount of habitat is still intact. We didn’t see any otter that is reported in the papers that was trapped. We felt the otter in the paper didn’t look hungry and starving. There was no otter trapped when we got there. There is a small portion of the river that will be compromised, but they are going to put culverts in the river to allow the river to continue to flow. The bulk of the river is still intact,” he said.
Charleau said the animal will be able to go further down into the river. “The otter, we believe, [is] supposed to be all right, once people don’t go in there and further compromise the habitat,” he said.
Charleau said the Emperor Valley Zoo was assured construction of the highway will not affect the animal’s habitat.
The waterway in which the animal seems to be trapped appears to be the Tarouba River, which runs parallel to the highway construction and over which, according to the highway design plan, the Tarouba River bridge is due to be built, where the river intersects with the highway.