| Otter Conservation
are considered the “ambassadors of the wetlands”. Their presence is the
best indicator of the health of the wetland’s ecosystem. However,
rampant poaching and habitat destruction threaten the future of otters
wetlands are classified as “wasteland” and drained for conversion to
agricultural or urban use. Loss of habitat, pollution and heavy fishing
pressure have exterminated otters from most areas. In other areas they
have been completely wiped out due to poaching. As a result, most otter
populations are now confined to protected areas.
WPSI started investigating the otter pelt trade when
we realised that it was closely linked to the illegal trade in tiger
and leopard parts. At one stage, otter pelts accounted for 20 to 30% of
wild animal skins seized in northern India. Like the big cats, otter
skins are mainly smuggled out of the country into China.
WPSI investigates the illegal otter skin trade in
order to expose the problem and to help apprehend the criminals
involved in the trade. We also spread awareness on otter conservation.
Copies of a documentary film "...And then There Were None" made by Syed
Fayaz of RGB Films (which was supported by the British High
Commission's Devolved Environmental Project Fund) have been sent to 35
training institutes for forest officers, along with information on the
trade to state governments in north, northeast and southern India.