Elusive otters ‘thriving’ after facing being wiped out in Hampshire

OTTERS on the verge of disappearing from Hampshire are making a miraculous comeback in parts of the county, according to reports.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 12:12 pm

Rangers in the South Downs National Park believe that the number of otters in Hampshire is on the up – and have captured some incredible footage to prove it.

In the video above, two otters were captured by the team’s wildlife camera climbing on to a raft – used to monitor river-dwelling species – under the cover of the darkness.

Otters were thought to have died out in Hampshire, but work to reduce river pollution around the River Meon has seen populations start to bounce back.

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Otters are starting to make a comeback. Picture: Amy Lewis/HIWWT
Otters are starting to make a comeback. Picture: Amy Lewis/HIWWT

Lead ranger Elaina Whittaker-Slark said: ‘Seeing an otter, let alone two, is quite special so we were all really inspired when we saw this footage.

‘It’s been an incredible turnaround for this charismatic creature when you consider no otters had been noted on the River Meon, even 10 years ago.

‘The return of the species is an indicator that water quality has significantly improved in the region, due to river restoration and declining use of pesticides.’

The cleaner water has also led to a rise in the eel population – which happens to be an otter’s favourite food.

It is believed that there are now at least three breeding females on the River Meon, a chalkstream flowing from the South Downs near East Meon and into the Solent.

Rangers now plan to install a wildlife camera on the River Rother in East Sussex, in the hope of capturing more otters exploring the national park.