Otter Trade on the Rise in Southeast Asia

A new report, Illegal Otter Trade: An Analysis of Seizures in Selected Asian Countries (1980–2015), by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, examines the black market trade in live otters and otter parts in the region. Four species affected by the trade were examined: small-clawed otters, smooth-coated otters, hairy-nosed otters, and Eurasian otters.

The authors found an extensive otter fur trade centered in India, Napal, and China—one that “is likely to be taking a toll on wild otter populations.” They also saw evidence of a growing (primarily domestic) trade in otters as pets. This trade chiefly occurs within Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Dr. Chris Shepherd, regional director of TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, stated in a press release that “very little effort has been made in the past to tackle the illegal trade in otters here in Southeast Asia, largely due to ignorance of the situation and an overall lack of concern for ‘low-profile species.’ … It is high time this group of species receive the conservation attention they so urgently deserve.”