Mission: To protect otters so that future generations can enjoy one of the world's most charming, elusive and enjoyable mammals.
Species: Smooth-coated, hairy-nosed, Asian short-clawed and Eurasian otter.
Support started: 2012
Donating: £4,970 to help train otter researchers during the otter workshop in Laos.
Find out more about our work with this project through our annual report:
Background: Otters are at risk from habitat loss, pollution and an expanding population but an extremely important threat is hunting for the illegal wildlife trade. Most conservation initiatives in relation to such trade is usually focussed on high profile species such as tigers, elephants and leopards. However, otters are a large part of the trade and for every tiger skin found there are at least 10 otter skins and one haul in Lhasa found 778 otter skins. This is clearly having a serious impact on otter populations and in places they have become locally extinct.
For any conservation programme to be successful it must be founded on recent sound scientific data obtained by trained professional researchers. It is important that these are local people who can work with their own communities but in Asia there are very few scientists working on otters and their habitats. IOSF is therefore working to provide a series of workshops to train people in otter field techniques, public awareness programmes, law enforcement and general conservation issues. These workshops have been a great success and the work is ongoing in communities through country networks linked together by the Asian Otter Conservation Network.
To date, workshops have been held in Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and China. The 2017 focus is in Laos. Laos, Myanmar and China are major hubs for this illegal trade so the next workshop will bring people from this area to encourage cross-border collaboration.
Future objectives: By training the next generation of otter researchers, reliable data can be obtained on which to base efficient and practical conservation programmes.
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