Anshim Wetland by the Geumho River embraces endangered otters.
Daegu to proceed with preservation as well as research and management of the genetic diversity of otters in the Geumho River
On November 18, Daegu Metropolitan City will join the National Institute of Ecology, Korean Otter Research Center, and Jeonnam Wildlife Rescue and Management Center to release two otters (male and female), which are classified as Level I Endangered Species, to the Anshim Wetland by the Geumho River.
▲ Image of an oter
The release of the otters to the Geumho River is part of inter-organizational cooperation to “improve genetic diversity, conduct inter-regional exchange, and research the preservation of otter habitats,” which was launched after the signing of the MOU for the “Preservation of Endangered Wildlife and the Protection of Their Habitats” between Daegu and the National Institute of Ecology in August.
The otters to be released were rescued from Muan-gun and Yeosu in Jeollanam-do in August 2018. They have undergone artificial rearing at the Jeonnam Wildlife Rescue and Management Center and nature adaptation training at the National Institute of Ecology and Korean Otter Research Center. Once an optimal location is selected, the otters will return to nature.
A survey of otters and their habitats in the Sincheon and Geumho rivers and their tributaries conducted last year confirmed that there are a total of 24 otters living in Daegu (eight in Sincheon River, seven in Geumho River, seven in Donghwa Stream, and two in Palgeo Stream). The survey also examined three locations—the stretch of land between Paldal Bridge and Joya Bridge, Anshim Wetland, and the area where the Geumho River and Sincheon River merge—as outstanding otter habitats.
The National Institute of Ecology ultimately selected the Anshim Wetland as the best location to release otters. Since there are only 24 otters in all of Daegu, there will be less conflict for habitats in the water system. As the Anshim Wetland in the Geumho River has abundant food for otters as well as vegetation colonies and alluvial islands, the National Institute of Ecology decided it would provide stable habitat conditions and therefore be a suitable habitat for otters.
The released otters are fitted with tracking devices, which will provide a way to study the overall ecological characteristics (home range, use of habitat, survival rate, etc.) and environmental characteristics (water quality, threats, etc.) and come up with measure to manage otter habitats.
In addition, to help the otters adapt to the natural environment, Daegu will closely cooperate with the National Institute of Ecology, Korean Otter Research Center, and other environmental organizations to remove threat factors, improve the connection between habitats, and preserve the habitats in the mid to long term.
“[The Daegu Metropolitan City] will make efforts to protect and manage otter habitats with its citizens so that the otters can adapt to the nature and live safely,” Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin remarked. “We will continue to cooperate with the National Institute of Ecology to look for ways to increase and preserve the main protected animals in our region, including otters, narrow-mouthed toads, and hooded cranes.”
The number of otters, which often live in streams and coastal areas of Korea, continued to decrease as they were recklessly killed for their fur and their habitats were destroyed from water pollution, water channel straightening projects, and other development initiative.
Otters are currently protected and managed as they have been designated as Level I Endangered Wildlife, Natural Monument No. 330, and a Near Threatened species on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.