Otter Lady !
These are Goa’s extraordinary Eco Champions who have done so-called ordinary work in extraordinary fashion. They have each done and continue to do their bit for Goa’s ecosystem. Herald Cafe will periodically identify and feature these inspirational leaders who have done their bit away from the limelight to preserve our land, our waters and our wild life
Katrina Fernandez and her team from Wild Otters who are keeping a close eye on these wonderful creatures and their adaptation to the environment today.
Goa is one of the eight bio-diversity hotspots on the planet. Most people seem to be unaware of this fact. There are however, people who are constantly and tirelessly working on safeguarding Goa’s ecology. Among a wide range of people working zealously towards the betterment and conservation of the environment, the Eco Champion social media organisation of Goa showcases Katrina Fernandez, an Ecologist and Director at Wild Otters Research Pvt Ltd studying the issues of Otters in Goa. Katrina was born and raised on a farm in the Western Ghats that has now become a part of Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary. “I grew up knowing nothing else, my lifestyle, my passion and my job is all one in the same.” she says. Katrina has been a part of huge otter projects; she has worked on the Small-clawed otter in the Western Ghats, the Hairy-nosed otter in Malaysia and Cape-clawless otters in Malawi. Apart from these species, she generated her time working on hyenas, leopards, and servals. All of these studies involved understanding population presence, habitat and food preferences. What is Wild Otters organisation? ‘Wild otters’ is a research organisation working on Smooth-coated and Small-clawed otters in Goa and Karnataka. Katrina brief’s about the Wild Otter Organisation and its work, “We try to fill in the gap in regards to data deficiencies (for both species) as well as investigate behaviours and habitats of Smooth-coated otters in Human dominated landscapes.” Apart from this the organisation gives an opportunity for young biologist to learn field work challenges, data collection methods, data analysis and many other applications through their internship programs and workshops. They provide customised programs and training’s specific to people’s universities, schools, corporate, and wildlife departments’ needs in regards to Wildlife research. Expressing her thoughts on the environment today, Katrina professes, “We live in the age of the anthropocene. I don’t think we realise how much plastic dominates every aspect of our lives and in turn how it affects so many other species around us. It is aesthetically displeasing and unimaginable damaging.” Katrina spends her days in struggle daily trying to understand what can be done to improve this situation. There was a specific purpose behind creating the research on Otters in Goa. According to Wild Otters organisation, in Goa, Smooth-coated otters are living primarily in human modified/dominated landscapes and most of the people unaware of this fact. Otters are very elusive and will not be easily seen unless you know what to look for, hence making it difficult for people to discover. Katrina assures that is better to leave them unseen, so that there is no extra human pressure on otter populations.
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