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A New Home and Buddhist Blessing for a Rare Hairy Nosed Otter

23 June 2008:

"Lutra sumatrana" - The Hairy Nosed Otter.

Conservation International, one of the leading conservation organisations in the world, is participating in the “religions approach” by organising a Buddhist blessing service for the world’s only captive Hairy-Nosed Otter.

Dara, the young male otter, has been released into a new home designed for him at the Phom Tamau Zoological Garden and Rescue Centre, near Phnom Phen. Traditionally, new Cambodian homes are blessed by Buddhist monks, and Dara’s release into his new enclosure was celebrated with a blessing. The name “Dara” means “star” or “precious” in the Khmer language.

Dara was rescued after his mother was killed by fisherman, and the rare otter had been living in a small cage at the wildlife centre since December. The Hairy-Nosed Otter is one of the rarest species in the world and in the 1990s it was thought to be extinct. Factors contributing to its decline include logging, agriculture and loss of habitat due to climate change. However, Cambodia has retained vast areas of wetlands and forest and almost 25 percent of the country is primarily managed for conservation. Cambodia is now a stronghold for many rare species which have died out in other areas of South East Asia.

CI, and a partner, the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) helped raise funds for the otter enclosure. They are working in conjunction with Cambodia’s Fishery Administration trying to extend the Kampong Prak Fish Sanctuary at Tonle Sap Lake by up to 20,000 hectares in order to provide a crucial habitat for rare otters. Annette Olsen, CI’s Research & Monitoring Manager in Cambodia said: “Scientists recommend establishment of a breeding population in captivity to ensure survival of this species… Dara could be the founder of such a captive population, if and when we find him a wife, of course”.

ABE (Association of Buddhists for the Environment) was launched in 2005 in Phnom Phen by ARC, the World Bank and the Buddhist Community in Cambodia. ABE is ARC’s sister organisation and is part of the Asian Buddhist Network. The network consists of monks from all 23 of Cambodia’s provinces and their synergy contributes towards the strength of the Sangha (the monk and nun community which cares for the environment).

Buddhism teaches us to live a simpler lifestyle and to treat nature with respect. The solution to the real environmental crisis begins with the individual.


Link here for details of the launch and objectives of ABE.

Link here for news of the Buddhist declaration about the natural environment.

Link here to go to the Sangha Network website.

Link here for Conservation International.

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