Lutra maculicollis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lutra maculicollis
Species Authority: Lichtenstein, 1835
Common Name(s):
English Spotted-necked Otter, Speckle-throated Otter, Spot-necked Otter
French Loutre À Cou Tacheté
Spanish Nutria De Cuello Manchado
Taxonomic Notes: This species has sometimes been included in the genus Hydrictis (e.g., Davis 1978; Wozencraft 2005), but is here retained in the genus Lutra following, among others, d'Inzillo Carranza and Rowe-Rowe (in press).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hoffmann, M.
Reviewer(s): Hussain, S.A. (Otter Red List Authority) and Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Least Concern as the species is widespread, and although the population is believed to be declining across the range, the rate of decline is not believed to be sufficient to warrant listing in a threatened category.
For further information about this species, see 10_Lutra_maculicollis_2014_(FINAL_08_07_2014).doc.
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2004 Least Concern
2000 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Spotted-necked Otter ranges from Guinea Bissau, the most westerly recorded range limit (Reuther et al. 2003), eastwards to south-west Ethiopia, and then southwards, in the west, to the northern border of Namibia, north-west Botswana and north-west Zimbabwe, and in the east, through west Kenya and Tanzania, Malawi, part of Mozambique, to eastern South Africa (Rowe-Rowe and Somers 1998; d'Inzillo Carranza and Rowe-Rowe in press). They are absent from Swaziland, and apparently locally extinct in Burundi, Ghana, Togo, and Lesotho (although they may never have occurred in this country) (d'Inzillo Carranza and Rowe-Rowe in press). The distribution of the species in West Africa, and possible presence on Bioko Island, is discussed by d'Inzillo Carranza and Rowe-Rowe (in press).
For further information about this species, see 10_Lutra_maculicollis_2014_(FINAL_08_07_2014).doc.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sierra Leone; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct:
Burundi; Ghana; Lesotho; Togo
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Abundance and density appear to be dependent on the availability of fish; consequently, this species is common or fairly common in the fish-rich central African lakes, but generally uncommon or rare in the rest of Africa where fish faunas tend to be poor (Rowe-Rowe 1990, 1995; d'Inzillo Carranza and Rowe-Rowe in press). In an area that included a highland stream and man-made lakes in South Africa, Perrin et al. (2000) estimated 1 otter/1-2 km of stream, while in less suitable habitat Rowe-Rowe (1992) estimated 1 otter/6-11 km.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Spotted-necked Otter inhabits freshwater habitats where water is unsilted, unpolluted, and rich in small fishes (d'Inzillo Carranza and Rowe-Rowe in press). While common in the great lakes of central and East Africa, they are also found in streams, rivers and impoundments up to altitudes of 2,500 m (Yalden et al. 1996). Adequate riparian vegetation in the form of long grass, reeds, or bushes is essential to provide cover during periods of inactivity. Unlike African Clawless Otter, they do not occur in marine or estuarine waters.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Spotted-necked Otter is decreasing throughout its range, mainly as a result of the alteration or degradation of freshwater habitats and riparian vegetation, exacerbated by the loss of habitat as a consequence of increased agricultural activity (Rowe-Rowe 1990, 1992, 1995). Bioaccumulation of organochlorines and other biocontaminants has been recorded in Spotted-necked Otters (Mason and Rowe-Rowe 1992).

Otters are also killed for food or skins, as a perceived threat to poultry, or as a competitor for fish (Rowe-Rowe 1990). Occasionally, they are accidentally caught and drowned in gill nets and fish traps (Stuart 1985; Rowe-Rowe 1990). Introduction of alien fish species that out-compete the smaller indigenous fish was identified as a main threat for the Lake Victoria population (Kruuk and Goudswaard 1990).
For further information about this species, see 10_Lutra_maculicollis_2014_(FINAL_08_07_2014).doc.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Spotted-necked Otter is present in a number of protected areas across its range.
It is listed on CITES Appendix II (as Hydrictis maculicollis).
For further information about this species, see 10_Lutra_maculicollis_2014_(FINAL_08_07_2014).doc.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.

Bibliography [top]

Davis, J. A. 1978. A classification of the otters. In: N. Duplaix (ed.), Otters: proceedings of the First Working Meeting of the Otter Specialist Group, pp. 14-33. Morges, Switzerland.

d'Inzillo Carranza, I. and Rowe-Rowe, D. T. In press. Lutra maculicollis. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Kruuk, H. and Goudswaard, P. C. 1990. Effects of changes in fish populations in Lake Victoria on the food of otters (Lutra maculicollis Schinz and Aonyx capensis Lichtenstein). African Journal of Ecology 28: 322-329.

Mason, C. F. and Rowe-Rowe D. T. 1992. Organochlorine pesticide residues and PCBs in otter scats from Natal. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 22: 29-31.

Perrin, M. R., D'Inzillo, I., Carranza and Linn, I. J. 2000. Use of space by the spotted-necked otter in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, South Africa. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 30: 15-21.

Reuther, C., Ehlers, M., Schuhmann, M., Kalz, B. and Fickel, J. 2003. New findings on otters in Guinea-Bissau. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 20: 19-27.

Rowe-Rowe, D. T. 1990. Action plan for African otters. In: P. Foster-Turley, S. MacDonald and C. Mason (eds), Otters: an action plan for their conservation, pp. 41-51. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Rowe-Rowe, D. T. 1992. The carnivores of Natal. Natal Parks Board, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Rowe-Rowe, D. T. 1995. Distribution and status of African otters. Habitat 11: 8-10.

Rowe-Rowe, D. T. and Somers, M. J. 1998. Diet, foraging behaviour and coexistence of African otters and the water mongoose. In: N. Dunstone and M. Gorman (eds), Behaviour and ecology of riparian mammals. Symposia of the Zoological Society of London 71, pp. 215-227. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Stuart, C. T. 1985. The status of two endangered carnivores occurring in the Cape Province, South Africa, Felis serval and Lutra maculicollis. Biological Conservation 32: 375-382.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A taxonomic and geographic reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Yalden, D.W., Largen, M.J., Kock, D. and Hillman, J.C. 1996. Catalogue of the Mammals of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7. Revised Checklist, zoogeography and conservation. Tropical Zoology 9(1): 73-164.

Citation: Hoffmann, M. 2008. Lutra maculicollis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 27 May 2015.
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