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Whatever happened to Bealltainn, the otter cub who was rescued on the Ross of Mull?
Having been rescued earlier this year in May when she wandered up to a human because she was starving – seeking help or at least a decent meal – she is now growing up at the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) sanctuary on Skye.
She is eating well, growing and becoming a little less bold around humans. This is good news. If rescued otters become tame, they cannot be released back into the wild where they belong. So although she is well cared for, human contact is kept to a minimum.
Grace Yoxon, who along with her husband Paul, established IOSF in 1993 said: ‘Yesterday (Thursday August 27) we moved Bealltainn into a bigger enclosure which gives her more chance to explore. We were very pleased in that she wasn’t easy to catch. It is strange to say that but it means she is more wary of us which is a good sign.’
One of those caring for Bealltainn is Ben Yoxon, Grace and Paul’s. From a very young age he loved being part of helping with otters, surveying, searching for them around Skye. He even helped with the release of Tacky, on Mull, when he was seven years old.
Ben says: ‘What I really love is being able to give otters a voice and help in their conservation, both locally, and around the world. Being able to see the impact we can make for otters, and wetland habitats, is amazing, and with our programmes we can help multiple co-existing species too. I am very proud to be part of “Team Otter” and look forward to dedicating myself to ensure their long-term survival.’
Rearing Bealltainn will cost IOSF about £1,600 for food, vet bills, etc. Cubs stay with their mothers for 12-15 months so should be released at about the same age. If released too early, they will not survive. This is why the food bills are so high.
You can visit IOSF’s website www.otter.org to find out more about the work of IOSF in Scotland and all across the world. It is a global organisation working to conserve all 13 species of otter by helping to support scientists and other workers in practical conservation, education, research and rescue and rehabilitation.
A visit to www.ottershop.co.uk has a link to allow you to adopt an otter (including Bealltainn!) or donate to support the work of IOSF. As they say, ‘No amount is too small as it will buy a fish for an otter.’