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Otter Oscars 2021

Since 2016 the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) has been giving out IOSF Otter Oscar Awards in a number of categories. These awards go to people that have achieved something great for otters and deserve recognition of this.

Once again, IOSF has been overwhelmed by the number of nominations (and superb otter work) that has been done over the last year and the panel had tough decisions to make in all of the categories. Despite this, the committee came to a decision and we are delighted to announce the following IOSF Otter Oscar winners for 2021:

YOUNG PERSON – Prentice Cunningham, Scotland. At the Youth Climate Film Awards, a video produced by Prentice and his friends, won a prize and they managed to bring the video, and the importance of otters, to a wider audience.

COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT - ECO-Earth Crusaders Organisation, India. The ECO-Earth Crusaders team managed to find a compensation scheme for fishermen's nets to reduce any potential conflict. They have also produced a book called “Community-Based Conservation of Smooth-Coated Otter at Nuanai”

GROUP OR ORGANISATION - Cork Nature Network, Ireland. This project raised the profile of otters across Ireland. They set up five otter trails and carried out surveys looking at diet, presence and habitat. They created a film on their native Cork otters and over 500 people attend the “premiere”. Now their “blueprint” is to be adopted by other areas and other cities.

RESEARCH – Omar Al-Sheikhly, Iraq. Omar is a researcher and wildlife ecologist, at the University of Baghdad. He is a passionate conservationist and has spent much time studying “Maxwell’s Otter”, a subspecies of the Smooth-coated otter that only habituates Iraq and Iran. He has published several papers in the IOSF Otter Journal, including a paper in the latest 2021 issue on “ART AS A CONSERVATION TOOL IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN MARSHES, SOUTHERN IRAQ, USING MAXWELL’S OTTER (Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli) AS AN EXAMPLE”. This unique project involved training a number of wildlife photographers to document wildlife sightings to help with monitoring and identify otter species.

PHOTOGRAPHY OR ARTWORK – Stephane Raimond, France
Stephane won this award for his amazing picture of an underwater otter.
Oscar winner

Once a fish farmer, Stephane developed a passion for otters who inhabited his fish farm. In 2010, Stephane gave up fish farming and instead found ways and protocols to help fish farms protect their fish but also have thriving otter populations. He regularly studies the otters and their behaviour at his home where he and the otters peacefully reside alongside each other.

SPECIAL AWARD – Rita Chapman, Democratic Republic of Congo/USA
In 2010 Rita and her husband Glen received a tiny Congo Clawless otter cub which they named Mazu. Mazu, rose to stardom and even Government officials came just to see this fascinating creature, whose name and face became a catalyst for change. People no longer saw otters as bushmeat or for poaching, and started to care and protect them.

Since then Rita has cared for many otters including other Congo Clawless, and more recently, Mbu, the Spotted-necked otter. The
Kikongo Otter Sanctuary was formed and along with her loyal Congolese helpers, Delphin and Sico, they cared for various otters over the years and helped them return to the wild.

The impact of Rita’s work in D.R. Congo and Kikongo will be timeless and her actions have helped otters be seen in a new light across the nation. Now that she has retired back to USA she is leaving these beautiful otters behind, safe in the knowledge, that the local people, led by Delphin and Sico, truly care about them now.


We will post photos of them all with their awards in due course.