Conservation Status of the Asian Small-Clawed Otter

Status up till 1977

For most of the 20th Century, the general feeling was that these animals were plentiful and common, but there had been no surveys, and numbers were in fact unknown.

1997 - CITES Listing

In 1997, this species was placed on CITES Appendix II, along with all other species of otter since at best they are considered Vulnerable. The IUCN rates it as 'Lower Risk, near threatened' - not yet reliant on conservation measures to ensure survival but population significantly decreasing. It has been covered by EC Reg 338/97 B since 2000, but has no special status according to the US ESA.


This species is technically protected in much of its range. In South Korea, it has been designated National Monument No 330. There are many national parks covering its range, espescially in Indonesia. Unfortunately, enforcement of the laws that are supposed to protect these animals is, in many places, weak or non-existent.

The Future

"Otter conservation in Asia, however, is plagued. Wildlife laws and administrative capability ensuring their enforcement are insufficient. The lack of reliable data from the field is also a problem. Above all, the low motivation of the people in Asia for otter conservation make otter conservation difficult, as legislative measures are unlikely to be successful in the absence of public support." (Workshop on Conservation and Public Awareness of Otters,TaiChung, Taiwan: announcement ceremony, 1999). Organized by the IUCN/SSC OSG (International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission Otter Specialist Group) Asian section, the Otter Research Group of Japan, National Taiwan University, Tung-Hai University, and the Taiwan Society for Wildlife and Nature, this meeting was attended by 55 participants from 12 countries.

Many conservation workers in the Far East feel that the decline of these animals has only just begun. Because of this, there are several initiatives in the area to survey existing otter numbers, and consider reintroduction of captive-bred otters in suitable areas. Meanwhile, in zoos around the world, Species Survival Plans and studbooks have been started to try to prevent inbreeding, or breeding from bloodlines with genetic problems.

Asian Small-Clawed Otter