Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Otters of Palawan

Yes! Only in Palawan does the Philippines have otters. Unfortunately due to human encroachment and illegal wildlife trade, they are considered vulnerable.

I was brought three orphaned otters last year, and I have raised them with the intent to release them back into the wild. We are not sure we can, but we do take them out on forays into their natural environment to slowly get them used to their natural habitat.

Unfortunately, one died earlier in 2014. They are very hard to raise properly and costly. The two remaining otters consume 3 kilos of fish, 3 kilos of small crabs and 2 kilos of clams PER DAY!

Please do not encourage people to keep them as pets. They have a very specialized diet,mainly of small crabs, mud skippers, clams, shells, small lizards etc.

You can read more about the otters of Palawan on my blog about them at:

Asian small clawed otters, are born deaf and blind like puppy dogs. After a month or so their ears open and they seem to be able to hear before they can see.
We were lucky the baby otter pups took to the bottle. We fed them low lactose powdered puppy/kitten, mixed with some full fat cream, as otter's milk is 6 times fatter than substitute or cows milk. I added probiotics to help their immune system and also to tolerate the lactose in the cream.
Small clawed otters form tight family units. There is one Alpha Male and female. The female can have two litters per year, with each subsequent litter raising the next. The siblings do not leave their parents until one of them dies or is killed, as is what happened to these pups. Their mom was accidentally killed by villagers.
This is a recent trip with the otters to a local mangrove tide pool.
 Palawan otters are the smallest in the world, weighing at most, 5 kilos. They do not live in the water, but beside it in mangroves, mud dens by rivers and swamp areas.
The otters are so graceful under water!

Here is a must see video of the otters playing. It will surely make your day as it does mine, to watch them romp and play.

Kapangyan and Lalatuan Waterfalls Bataraza

These photos make the falls look delightful. I haven't been there myself so you are on your own. Here are directions from the chap whose photos I have ask permission to use, and who has been there, Dhong Mhe.

If you don't have your own vehicle: 
"From San Jose terminal take bus or van bound to Rio Tuba...tell driver to drop you by Kapangyan, Malihud, Bataraza: there is a signage Kapangyan falls (although you can only see it ahead if you're travelling from south since it is only facing south)...from that spot take a 1-2 hrs hike to Kapangyan falls....additional 1 hour if you want also to see Lalatuan falls......just ask locals...they're friendly enough to give you directions or even accompany you."

This is an off the beaten track adventure. Bring everything you will need for the day as there are no services at all there. Please do pick up any garbage you bring in to keep is pristine. Also, we always carry extra trash bags to carry out trash others have left as well to keep natural areas as pristine as possible. Let's all be responsible tourists and respect all nature.

Down river from Kapangyan falls.

Lalatuan falls is another 1 hour hike from Kapangyan falls. They all look very worth the trip.

Falls next to Lalatuan