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The year of the otter

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Year of the Otter logo with copyright

IOSF has declared 2016 to be the YEAR OF THE OTTER and we want as many people as possible to be involved.

We all know that otters are special animals - not only are they wonderful animals to watch but they are great indicators to a healthy environment. They are at the top of the food chain and use both the land and water, so both habitats have to be in pristine condition – this is important for all species, including our own.

And yet they are being exploited for commercial gain and in some places hunted almost to extinction. Their habitat is being destroyed and fish stocks depleted. And they are being killed on our roads.

But the biggest problem facing otters today is LACK OF AWARENESS and that is what this special year is aiming to address.

As part of the YEAR OF THE OTTER, IOSF is holding a training workshop in China to train more people in research and education and also bring focus on to the illegal trade in otters. There will also be various other events worldwide and people are starting to get organised in Chile, Argentina, Pakistan and USA but we want everyone to get involved spreading the word about the importance of otters and helping to raise funds to support projects. Please help us.

PLEASE HELP US WITH OUR SPECIAL APPEAL FOR 2016 – we want to raise £5,000 for each species of otter – a total of £65,000. You can DONATE HERE on our crowdfunding page.

In Africa funding is needed to continue the education work started with the IOSF training workshop in Tanzania in 2015. The Kikongo Otter Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo cares for orphaned Congo clawless otters and also does great education work in this remote community. In Asia more work is needed to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Everyone knows about the trade in elephants, rhinos and tigers, but who knows that the trade in otters is even bigger? For every tiger skin found there are at least 10 otter skins and one haul in Tibet had 778 otter skins. In India 20-30% of the illegal trade is in otters and they are rapidly disappearing. We need to make people aware of this great threat to otters. Even in the UK we are led to believe that they are now “everywhere” but this is far from the truth. Otter populations have recovered from the 1950s-60s but they are still at risk from new pollutants and from our roads. Events like the recent flooding are going to have a serious effect. Of course, they can swim but they are semi-aquatic and need to come on to land as well, and of course, small cubs are very vulnerable. Otters breed slowly and so recovery from any population loss will take some time.

Another new initiative is the launch of the OTTER OSCARS - after all we have had the BAFTAs and the Oscars, so why should otters be left out!

The OTTER OSCARS are open to all, and will be presented annually - beginning in December 2016.

The categories are:

Children – Open to anyone aged 12 years or under (as at 1 December 2016). This can include any activity aimed to promote otter conservation such as artwork, writing, fundraising, etc

Young People – Open to anyone from 13 – 18 years (as at 1 December 2016). This can include any activity aimed to promote otter conservation such as artwork, writing, fundraising, etc

Group/Organisation – For example school, natural history group, Scouts/Guides, etc.

Community Achievement – Any activity which involves local communities in otter conservation. This can be in the form of practical work, education, etc.

Research – Open to amateur or professional researchers. The research must have taken place during 2016, although ongoing projects may be submitted. Any projects must not involve any procedure which is invasive or in any other way harms the animal. The project may involve animals in the wild or in captivity but this must be made clear in the application.

Photography – Open to amateur or professional photographers. All photos must have been taken during 2016 and entries must indicate where and when it was taken, and if the photo was taken in the wild or in captivity. Photos may also include habitat or otter signs.

Special Award – Open to anyone who has made a lifelong commitment to otter conservation or for an activity which does not fit into any other category

Applications/nominations can be made in more than one category, providing the outlined criteria is met. Anyone wishing to apply, or nominate, should complete the online form by 28 November 2016. Results will be announced on 5 December 2016. Winners will receive a unique award, in recognition of their contribution to otter conservation and awareness. For further information contact

There are various other ways that you can take part. Just download our fundraising pack to get heaps of ideas.

Year of the Otter new poster

We also have posters and flyers as above in various different languages which can be downloaded HERE.. If you are able to help by translating into other languages please do contact us at

These posters are for everyone to download and distribute so please use them to tell people about otters. You can also download material for use with children

Let us know how you will be supporting the YEAR OF THE OTTER and we will publicise it on our website and through our monthly e-update. You can also contact us at if you have any questions or need any further information or help. We have special flyers and posters we can send you in a number of different languages including French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. If you can help with more translations please do contact us.

We are always looking for help and suggestions so do contact us at