A Zoology professor at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, Dr. Padma de Silva has served as the chairperson of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group and currently serves as the Asian Coordinator for this group. From Nepal to Thailand, Sri Lanka to Cambodia, Dr. de Silva has traveled the world to study otters, educate children and adults, and organize otter experts for in-country workshops on otter survey techniques.
Dr. de Silva notes that in many parts of Asia, people are not aware of the existence of otters in their wetlands. Since Otters are excellent indicators of healthy wetlands and people depend on clean, functioning wetland ecosystems for their survival, conservation of otters and their habitat is imperative. After organizing successful surveys of otters in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, Dr. de Silva turned her attention to training local biologists on otter survey techniques. In 2008, a workshop held in Cambodia taught participants how to identify otters from specimens, skins, and photographs from camera traps and how to carry out surveys for otters using direct and indirect evidence. Scroll through the slideshow below to see photos of biologists learning new tracking techniques in Dr. de Silva’s workshops.