Wild otter spotted at Longleat

Wild otter at Longleat. photo by Jon Cracknell

It may be best known for its African animals, but it’s a rare native species that’s now causing excitement at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

This week, staff reported sightings of a wild otter close to a stream in the centre of the Longleat estate.

Jon Cracknell, Director of Animal Operations said: “We’d started getting reports earlier in the week that an otter had been sighted and keepers had spotted some footprints and other signs down by the water’s edge. However I really didn’t think we’d be able to actually get some photographic proof so quickly. The pictures aren’t great but it was dark and this is such a privilege to see such an elusive native mammal in our very own waterways,” he said.

Keepers are now hoping to set up a series of camera traps alongside the stream in the hope of getting some more images of the otter and to see whether it’s a lone animal or part of a group.

Otter numbers declined across Britain in the late 1950’s and 1960’s because of hunting and the pollution of watercourses but their numbers are slowly starting to recover.

The Longleat sighting is a good sign that the animals are now moving back into the county and the estate is actively encouraging more wild otters into the surrounding areas to try and re-establish a stronghold.