Yesterday morning we received a call from a lady who claimed to have found a young otter near to the Chatuchak Weekend Markets in Bangkok. She asked us for help, as she wanted the otter to have a good home and proper care. The rescue team headed out to collect this little guy. He is an oriental small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus), we have named him ‘Oscar’, and he is approximately 3 months old. At this stage in his life he would still be very dependent on his mother for milk, and would be with her 24 hours a day.
Oriental small-clawed otters are currently listed as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Throughout Asia the main threat to its continued survival is destruction of its habitats due to changing land use pattern in the form of developmental activities. In many parts of Asia, the habitats have been reduced due to reclamation of peat swamp forests and mangroves, aquaculture activities along the intertidal wetlands and loss of hill streams. Another important threat to Asian Small-clawed Otter is reduction in prey biomass due to over-exploitation, which make its remaining habitats unsustainable. Pollution is probably the single most important factor, causing decline in the population of many fish species. The threat posed by poaching, for the fur trade and pet trade, is still very significant in many parts of South Eat Asia and will certainly count as a major threat that needs to be constantly monitored.
Sadly an increase in keeping these animals as pets has been seen throughout Thailand. We are hearing reports of otter ‘farms’ where many are being purposely bred for the pet trade. Luckily Oscar is now at the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre, he will be in the WFFT Wildlife Hospital for round the clock care for the next few months until he is old enough to be socialized with the other otters here at WFFT. Keep wildlife wild and not as pets.