HelPiNG oTtERs...

There has recently been a surge in the international and domestic trade of short clawed otters, threatening conservation activities, whole eco-systems and animal welfare.

Demand for otters is on the rise, and for a number of reasons!

tHe pROblEm


Demand for otters, especially in places such as Japan is sky rocketing!


Although short clawed otters are the smallest species of otter and their skins are small - they are very durable and animals are frequently hunted and trapped, especially for making footwear.​


Otters are directly persecuted by the prawn and crab farming industry, and many drown in fish traps.

hAbItAt DesTruCtiON

The growth of the human population, and industrialisation of the Far East has had a major impact on the Asian short-clawed otter's habitat. Conversion of primary forest for logging, agriculture and settlement directly destroys habitat and necessary cover, but also leads to soil washing into rivers, silting up watercourses, and reducing prey. Large scale road construction has led to a rise in otter road kill. Widespread dam construction, wetland drainage and changes to rivers in attempts to control flash-flooding and for hydroelectricity has had a large effect - small watercourses dry up, and dens and bank side vegetation is destroyed during construction, being replaced with steep, high-sided banks, normally made of concrete.

 In Sumatra particularly there is a lot of gravel extraction from river beds which again leads to silting of water, and renders the watercourse uninhabitable for the otters. Habitat destruction means that populations of otters are unable to reach eath other, limiting breeding potential and restricting the gene pool.


Large quantities of PCBs can be found in natural otter habitat as a result of industrialisation and expansions. This along with increased use in pesticides is having a devestating effect on Asia's waterways. Invertebrates and fish are being directly effected, reducing food items. Otters are also being poisoned by poor water by ingesting pollutants whilst drinking.

WaIt, WHo WoULD wAnT aN oTtEr As A PeT?


Demand for otters, especially in places such as Japan is sky rocketing!

The Illegal Otter Trade in Southeast Asia report, revealed a high demand for juvenile live otters in the region, with over 70% of the animals offered for sale online under a year old.  

The report focused on four species: Small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), hairy-nosed otters (Lutra sumatrana) and Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra). All four species are legally protected in most of their home nations. They are all classified as endangered, vulnerable or near threatened by the IUCN.

For this study TRAFFIC gathered information from a total of 167 seizures dating back to 1980, affecting nearly 6,000 otters during that time period. According to that data, the number of live animals rescued from smugglers has increased over the past five years, with each shipment averaging six otters. The researchers found that small-clawed and smooth-coated otters represented the bulk of the pet trade, with captured animals originating in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. They also uncovered evidence of a “flourishing online pet trade,” mostly via social media sites such as Facebook.

WhAt aRE we DoIng?

We keep Asian short clawed otters at the HCC.

We welcomed our otter sisters Rita, Irene and Shirley to the centre in Autumn 2018. They have settled in really well and have become firm favourites with both staff and visitors alike.

The HCC have donated to Save Vietnam's Wildlife, to help build rehabilitation enclosures for 11 rescued otters, could you?

From Save Vietnam's Wildlife:


Last month, we rescued 10 otters, the biggest number of otter rescue cases ever, adding up to total 11 otters being cared at our center at the moment. In Vietnam, Otters are seriously threatened by illegal hunting, trade, habitat loss, and pollution. Not only are they killed for their fur or lose their homes, but they also face being trapped and sold to become a human’s pet. SVW commits to save these otters and give them the best care in our capacity. Building enclosures simulating their natural habitat will help them complete their rehabilitation, recover their instincts, and allow them to be released back to the wild sooner.

The HCC have donated towards the construction of these new enclosures, and we urge any of our supporters to do the same by clicking here:

Save Vietnam's Wildlife works with an array of species including otters, civets and loris (like those at the centre). Since the end of summer, a percentage of each sale of an otter or loris plush toys from our gift shop will also be sent to Save Vietnam's Wildlife.

For more information about the work that Save Vietnam's Wildlife carries out, please like their facebook page and visit their website here:

wHat CaN yOu do?

Helping is easy. Here are a few tips.

  • Come and visit us on World Otter Day on 28th May from 10am!