Conservation Status of the Hairy-Nosed Otter

Status up till 1997

There had been an observed steep decline in distribution range, as these animals faced the problems listed on the Threats page. Historically, this species was considered quite common in the first part of the 20th century, but in the Red Lists for 1990 aned 1994 it is labelled as "Insufficient Information", and in 1996 the IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group Red List authority declared them as "Vulnerable with declining population trend".

1997 - CITES Listing

IN 1997, this species was placed on CITES Appendix II.  In 1999, the Red List entry it is listed as Data Deficient with the comment "So far little is known about the biology and distribution of L. sumatrana. It is under discussion if the species still exists".  By 1998, many people considered it was already extinct as there had been no sightings for the last ten years (Wright et al, 2008).


In 2009, the IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group Red List authority reclassified the Hairy-Nosed Otter as Endangered with a declining population trend. 

Lutra sumatrana is listed in Appendix II of the CITES. It is legally protected in all the range countries. In Thailand all the otter species have been protected since 1961 under Wild Animals Preservation and Protection Act and are listed as endangered species in Thailand Red Data Book (Nabhitabhata and Chan-ard, 2005). In Viet Nam, otters are protected and their hunting and use is strictly banned. In Cambodia, the hairy-nosed otter is listed as ‘Rare’ and is fully protected. In Sarawak all otter species are protected by the First Schedule [Section 2(1)] PART II on Protected Animals from the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998.(IUCN Red List).

The Future

It is likely that the species will be reclassified again as highly endangered as the threats it faces are not reducing, but in fact increasing.  A few more remnant populations may be found, but they seem to be very disjunct, leading to genetic stagnation.  Although it seems that the authorities are now taking protection of this otter much more seriously, the extreme poverty of the people and the relative riches that a dead otter can bring mean that real, effective conservation will have to address the problems of the people, and ways sought to make otters worth far more alive in the wild than dead as skins or body parts or as pets. 

The recommendation of the Red List is that this species urgently needs protection and management of land and water areas where the otters are found, habitat restoration, captive breeding for reintroduction, education, training, awareness communication, enforcement of legislation, and incentives to local people in terms of alternative livelihoods, enterprises and economics.

There is an initiative by the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) in its Furget-Me-Not campaign to work with local people to try to bring this about, which is being supported by Conservation International and the Cambodian Forestry Department, as working from the bottom up, even on a small scale, is proving more effective than campaigns working at national and international level from the top down. 

Hairy-Nosed Otter