The otters of Rubondo Island

By Wandering Maasai | 23 July 2015

By Akil Halai

Following my last blog on Rubondo Island’s small wonders, I was yet again lucky to visit this “Jurassic Park”. Unfortunately, it was work related but nevertheless I did have plenty of opportunities to explore the lakeshores by the Rubondo Island Camp on boat every evening.

Adventures at Rubondo
This time the spotted necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) captivated my fascination. Otter is derived from old English and Indo European root words that also gave rise to the English word for water. Fisi maji or “water hyenas” in Swahili.

They are usually found with slim bodied, short legs, white markings on underside of neck and chest, webbed hands and feet, claws on all four limbs & long tapering tail slightly flattened top to bottom. Their fur offers superior insulation. Otters do not have blubber as seals do to keep themselves warm. Otters are near sighted thus adopting themselves for underwater vision. They have long whiskers (vibrissae), which aid in finding fish in musky waters.

The otters of Rubondo Island
They were not that difficult to find. As they say patience is avirtue. I was blessed with sightings of females with offspring; adolescent groups and male groups were also seen in a stance of 4 days. I was not that fortunate to get clear photographs whilst on board, as the evening waves on the shoreline tend to be fierce. Although I did get to draw a quick sketch, while enjoying the sightings.

Once again, it is small wonders like these that make Rubondo such a rewarding place for me to visit. I cannot wait to get back and explore.


About Akil
Tanzanian-born Akil Halai is the Field Operations Coordinator for Asilia Tanzania. A birding enthusiast of note, he endeavours to observe as many avian species as possible upon his travels through Africa.

SeeAkil’s past blog post on the Small Wonders of Rubondo.

Visit the Rubondo Island Camp website for more information about the camp and the island.

To come and stay on Rubondo Island, contact your trusted travel agent or send an enquiry.

The post The otters of Rubondo Island appeared first on Asilia Africa.

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