Exotic otter fishing in Bangladesh. A good opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature and see a different method of fishing. Fishing is a way of life for most Bangladeshis. It is not only the main source of income for many people, but it is also a popular pastime. However, most people use traditional fishing equipment to catch their fish. In contrast, some fishermen in Bangladesh have taken up a new and unusual pursuit- exotic otter fishing.
This article discusses the strange practice of catching fish with otters in Bangladesh.
Usually, Bangladeshi people don’t eat rice without fish. And so there is no doubt that the proverb ‘The Bengali live with fish and rice.’ And it reflects the identity of Bengali. This identity is thousands of years old. In Bangladesh, there are many methods of fishing. The most common method is using various types of net. However, there are other methods in different rural areas. Not only that, there are different methods of fishing in different countries of the world.
In many parts of the world, there is some unique and different method of fishing. For example, fishing is practiced in China and Japan with the help of birds. The old tradition of fishing with this bird has been going on for 1300-1500 years. This ancient traditional fishing method is called “Cormorant Fishing or Ukai” in the Japanese name. But once, fish was hunted in Bangladesh with otters. In Bangladesh, the otter is usually called “Udbhiral,” or small little otter. However, the name of this otter changes from place to place like “Udbilai, Ud, Dhere or Dharia.” The method of fishing with this animal is quite old and natural. It is known that the tradition of this fishing method is 300 years old. At present, this method is lost in the evolution of time.
It is essential to note that some of the fishers in the rivers of Bangladesh, especially in the Sundarbans and on the Chitra River banks, still survive fishing with these otters. The fishers still live in some remote villages, including Bhogra, Goalbari, Ratdanga, Punkbilas, and Goalbari in the Narail district. The profession of fishing with these otters has been passed down through the generations. These local fishermen take their otters and boats out to the river from mid-October to January. Fish are more available at this time because the water level of rivers, canals and beels decreases a lot. In the winter season, most of the fish hunters go to the Sundarbans region with these otters to catch fish.
How Otter Fishing Works
These “Udbhiral” are amphibians and are very good at fishing. Also, fish is the favorite food of Otters. Usually, it hunts fish in ponds or beels. Fishers keep their pet otters trapped in a bamboo hut on one side of the boat. These fishermen usually split into groups for fishing. Each group consists of five fishermen, a fishing net, and at least three otters. Of these three otters, two are adults and one is a young otter. And the nets used for fishing are triangular.
The fishermen open the door of the otter’s house just before throwing the net into the river. Then they lowered the two sides of the triangular net into the water. As soon as the net is thrown into the river, the otters also go down into the water. Then the otters chase the fish out of the water and throw it into the net. The fishermen then pulled the net into the boat. The most notable thing is that the otters chase the fish and bring them into the net but they don’t eat any fish. Instead, the fishermen let the otters eat the small fish that fall into the trap when the fish are caught. These otters are reared by the fishing families, just like the rest of their livestock. These otters are fed fish before going hunting. After catching fish again, these otters also get a part of that fish. This is why they are loyal to the fishermen.
Unfortunately, the skin value of otters is much higher. That is why the traffickers keep a watchful eye on these fishermen. Many fishers sell their otters for three to five thousand Bangladeshi Taka. On the other hand, this animal is getting lost due to the superstition and unconsciousness of the local people. Many kill these otters in the vicinity of the locality because they think they will eat all the fish in the area’s ponds. But, this animal is protected under the Wildlife Act of Bangladesh. In 2012, a law was passed regarding the protection and safety of these otters.
Based on your request, we organized an otter fishing tour. It’s not possible to instantly organize this type of trip.