What would you like to search for?


© WWF-Hong Kong

Of the 13 species of otters in the world, Hong Kong is home to one: the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). Eurasian otters are mainly nocturnal, but their mysterious night-time activities make it difficult to find and track them, so scientists – and the general public as well – don’t know much about them. What we do know is that rampant development and other human activities in wetlands are threatening the lives and habitats of these special creatures.   

The Wetland Incubator project has gathered experts and groups of citizen scientists who are scientifically-minded detectives. They will observe and record otter signs like spraint and footprints that will allow us to better understand their distribution and population status. Design teams with inventive minds and nature-loving hearts are also being invited to help raise public awareness of otters by developing various information campaigns.   


Otter Signs Investigation

Otter Citizen Scientists

 Otter Citizen Scientists
© WWF-Hong Kong

The efforts of Wetland Incubator citizen scientists in monitoring otters over the programme’s first two years are beginning to bear fruit, as we have gained a greater understanding of their behaviour. Also, the camera traps deployed by the team have captured some rare and precious footage that is especially important for the on-going study of mammal distribution within Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Recruitment for citizen scientists Programme - Year Three ended in Apr 2023. Some of the previous participants will become group leaders, transferring their knowledge and experience to new joiners. We look forward to seeing some exciting monitoring results in the third year – together we can help drive research into Hong Kong otters forwards!

Year 3 Otter Citizen Scientists Schedule:

30th Apr 2023

Application deadline

Early-May 2023

Online interview with candidates

Mid-May 2023

Notify shortlisted participants

3rd Jun 2023

Workshop Day 1
- Be familiar with Mai Po Nature Reserve and Eurasian otter
- Get to know the team and site visit of the study routes

17th Jun 2023

Workshop Day 2
- Learn how to use and maintain infrared cameras
- Mammal identification lesson and practice

July 2023 –
July 2024

Regular monthly duty:
- Infrared camera maintenance in Mai Po, sorting and identification of camera trap images
- Otter sign survey

Spraint Detection Conservation Dog

Spraint Detection Conservation Dog
© WWF-Hong Kong

Detection dogs have been successfully used in spraint surveys in locations around the world. The Wetland Incubator project recognised the potential of using dogs to detect spraints in Hong Kong, and began to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of involving them.

The team invited a Border mongrel to participate in some experimental research. The dog will be put through different training stages and assessments, including environmental desensitisation and odour detection training – conducted off-site at first, then at the Reserve. This will be the first pilot project to use a detection dog for conservation purposes in Hong Kong. If it is successful, this could pave the way for further such activities that will help preserve and protect other local wild animals.

Trainer Garay and dog Aljo will soon begin conducting indoor and outdoor training at Mai Po Nature Reserve. During the training, he will wear working dog vest and be on a leash. If you meet them during your visit to the Reserve, please give the trainer and the dog plenty of space!

Otter Education Design Team

 Otter Education Design Team
© WWF-Hong Kong


This design team was formed in November 2021. After a field trip to Mai Po and a wide-ranging workshop, the team quickly began to brainstorm and plan a series of otter public education activities. Riding on World Otter Day in May, the team designed and ran the “Little Otter Painters | Colouring Competition 2022”, held the “Oh My Otter” festival with an exhibition, workshops and an arts and crafts market, and are now creating a children's picture book called “Don't Go, Eurasian Otter!”.



Otter Spraint Platform

Otter Spraint Platform
© Lok Sin Tong Wong Chung Ming Secondary School

Observing and collecting otter spraints is an excellent way to understand their distribution and identify individuals. Given the knowledge that otters mark their territory by placing spraints on prominent features, the project initiated a cooperative programme with Lok Sin Tong Wong Chung Ming Secondary School to design man-made platforms that will act as accessible prominent features for the otters. The platforms will also be equipped with an infrared camera to record the behaviour of otters that use them. The programme allows the students to utilise design thinking to create a platform that can withstand changes in water levels – a more holistic approach to finding and collecting spraints.

By June 2022, students had completed a series of field trips and otter workshops, and are now designing and building the otter spraint platforms. Their work is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, when field tests will begin to ascertain their effectiveness.