IOSF heads off to Laos for its next Asian workshop on otters from the 2nd to 7th April 2018. Otters are one of Asia’s most overlooked medium-sized mammals and yet they are at the forefront of the illegal wildlife trade together with tigers and leopards – for every tiger skin found there are at least 10 otter skins and one haul in Lhasa found 778 otter skins.
Laos, Myanmar and China are a major hub for this illegal trade. In some parts of Asia, otters (particularly Asian small-clawed otters) are taken from the wild for the pet trade and many of these are kept in terrible conditions and die. This trade is seriously threatening the survival of otters and in some areas they have become locally extinct.
Dr Paul Yoxon of IOSF said “the Asia otter populations are in sharp decline, along with their wetland habitats, and one of the main reasons is lack of awareness. This then leads to a lack of available funding for research, education and conservation. The main focus of this workshop is the illegal trade and we will be working largely with government border officials, who can then enforce existing legalislation.”
An Otter Network will be formed for Laos to act as a launchpad of collaboration throughout the region and encourage work within communities and co-operation in conservation and law enforcement. They can also collaborate with colleagues in the Chinese Otter Network and throughout Asia through the regional Network.