For 2014, Action for the Wild has pledged £4,900 in support of the International Otter Foundation’s work to protect the smooth-coated otter in the wild. Our previous donations, totalling £8,974, have helped to develop new enclosures for hairy-nosed and smooth-coated otters at the Phnom Tamao Centre in Cambodia, which is working to rescue and rehabilitate otter species.

In 2014, the project’s efforts and our funds will concentrate in Bangladesh.  Fishing with otters used to be practised in many south Asian countries, but now it is more or less restricted to Bangladesh, where it has been used for over 200 years. In 1997 it was reported that more than 500 otters were used for fishing and this supported about 5,000 people, but this number has now more than halved. The tame otters are, however, vital for the economy of the local communities, and at the same time, are looked after well and are able to catch their own fish whilst working.

Otters-small-copy-imageAs the fishermen depend on the otters, they also have a tradition to conserve them in the wild. As they look after their own animals very well, a lot of information about this species has been learnt from them. Due to their efficient breeding of the otters, this ancient traditional way of life can play a vital part in conserving smooth-coated otters in the wild.

In November 2014, Action for the Wild’s funds will be put towards a workshop to train otter researchers in field techniques and education awareness programmes. By training the next generation of otter researchers, reliable data can be obtained on which to base efficient and practical conservation programmes. There are in fact very few otter researchers in Bangladesh, so this five-day workshop will enhance work with the communities by centring on the fishing villages; helping develop protocols to captive breed smooth-coated otters for release to restore wild populations. By learning to breed and release the cubs, the fishing community can continue their traditions and act as “stewards” in otter conservation, boosting populations of these otters in the wild.

If you would like more information on this project, please watch this short video clip:  

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