Cleaner waters, more otters
Until recent years, the smooth-coated otter was a rare sight in Singapore, where it was thought to have become extinct.
But now, they are not only seen often, but have also become a problem for home owners and hotels in Sentosa, as well as commercial fishing pond owners like D'Best Recreation's Mr Darren Seng.
Mr N. Sivasothi, a biological sciences lecturer at the National University of Singapore, told The New Paper that the high number of otter sightings can be attributed to our waterways becoming cleaner over the years.
"It was only in 1998 that the smooth-coated otter returned to the waters of Singapore," he said.
"As the waterways get cleaner, they would have more fishes, and it is only natural that the otters would explore their surroundings."
Mr Sivasothi, who has been involved in otter research in Singapore since the early 90s, added: "With the greening of the urban areas and the improvement in the waterways, wildlife will return to these areas."
In particular, many Singaporeans were excited to see three smooth-coated otter pups that were born and raised in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in April last year.
The Asian small-clawed otter, the other species found in Singapore, is harder to spot because it is a nocturnal creature and can be found only in a few areas.
A spokesman for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it received 42 instances of feedback on otters, mostly pertaining to sightings, from January last year to last month.
Only a small number of the feedback were on nuisance issues, which includeed the eating of fish in ponds.
It is illegal to kill or harm otters because, like all wildlife in Singapore, they are protected under the Wild Animals and Birds Act.
Mr Sivasothi hopes that the National Parks Board's plan to plant hedges along the fishing pond at D'Best Recreation would be enough to make it difficult for the otters to gain access to the pond.