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IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
© IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group

Volume 15 Issue 1 Pages 1 - 67 (April 1998)

Recommendations and Results
VII. International Otter Colloquium (IOC)
Trebon/Czech Republic, March 14 - 20, 1998

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The IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group (OSG) and the participants of VII. IOC agreed on the following results of VII. IOC and recommendations for further work in otter conservation.

World-wide they:

  I 1   reiterate that the protection and support of remaining otter populations needs top priority in otter conservation world-wide;
  I 2   recommend that the Ramsar Convention Bureau be asked to include the presence of an otter population as one of the criteria for designating Ramsar sites;
  I 3   recommend it be made mandatory to conduct pre- and post ecological studies for any project planned that is likely to impact otter populations or wetland areas in that region;
  I 4   accept that otter predation at fish-farms can cause serious economic damage.
The conditions suitable for intensive fish production are also otter habitat and the artificially high densities of fish placed in such natural surroundings increase their attraction or value to otters; 
research into technical methods to assess and prevent fish farm depredation must be initiated in order to minimise conflicts and has priority over solutions like killing or translocating otters;
  I 5   strongly encourage further research on various aspects of otter biology to improve current knowledge;
  I 6   recommend that permits for keeping otters in captivity only be given to those persons and institutions that will provide these animals with at least the minimal requirements as described in existing or OSG husbandry guidelines for each species. Continued exhibition of otters by these individuals/institutions should be subject to periodic review;
  I 7   emphasize that before an otter harvest (including trapping for translocation) can be allowed population demographic data must be provided that demonstrate this action will not pose a threat to that population;
  I 8   recommend the initiation of an IUCN/SSC OSG tissue bank. It is further recommended that location options for the establishment of such a tissue bank be assessed and proposed, and that necessary standard information, and appropriate procedures and methods for the collection of these tissue samples be compiled;
  I 9   suggest the necessary information be compiled for the exchange of tissue samples for scientific and conservation purposes according to CITES.

For Europe they:

  II 1   reiterate that due to the obvious recovery tendencies of Lutra lutra in Europe all available financial and personnel resources should be used to support this development, particularly through habitat management. The efforts to develop an Otter Habitat Network Europe (OHNE) should be supported by all governments, national and international agencies and otter specialists;
  II 2   are deeply concerned about the increasing number of otter reintroduction projects in Europe that do not follow IUCN reintroduction guidelines.
The group has therefore established a Reintroduction Advisory Committee (RAC) for Europe that develops criteria for otter reintroduction projects. Elected members of this committee are:
Claus Reuther, Germany (Chairman and co-ordinator Europe of OSG)
Addy de Jongh, The Netherlands (Director Otterpark Aqualutra)
Alfred Melissen, The Netherlands (Studbook keeper Lutra lutra)
Hans Kruuk, Scotland (former chief scientist Institute for Terrestrial Ecology)
Arno Gutleb, Austria (Pollution expert of OSG)
Jordi Ruiz-Olmo, Spain (Chief scientist of the otter translocation project Spain)
It is strongly recommended that for every project proposal the OSG is contacted via the country's national OSG representative and the members of the RAC will evaluate the proposal. It is stressed once again that a scientific approach, raising of public awareness and a proper monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of the project are essential;
  II 3   are concerned by the use of Rotenone in Norwegian river systems as a method to eradicate the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) parasite (Gyrodactylus salaris). Norway signed the Berne Convention in 1986 and under this they are obliged to protect the habitat of specific species including the otter. As the short-, and longterm effects of Rotenone are not fully understood further studies on the effects of this treatment on the otter, waterfowl and birds of prey (sea eagle etc.) are urged to be carried out. It is suggested that recent techniques in molecular biology be used for these studies;

For North America they:

  III 1   encourage enforcement of current wetland regulations and promote the development of new regulations that further ensure protection of the utilizable otter and wildlife habitats in the West. Protection of riparian habitats through grazing restrictions should be encouraged. Also, land managers in western states should be encouraged to develop strategies to retain adequate water supplies necessary to maintain wildlife populations dependent on riverine and associated habitats;
  III 2   recommend that North Americans should be commended for extensive efforts to restore extirpated otter populations through implementation of reintroduction projects. However, future and ongoing reintroduction projects should follow IUCN guidelines, particularily regarding:          
a. using sources of otters from the nearest viable populations that evolved under similar environmental conditions,     
b. implement strategies which maintain genetic variability in reintroduced populations,
c. clearly define long-term management goals for reintroduced populations;
  III 3   recommend that research on the status and genetic viability of the Sonoran river otter subspecies (Lontra canadensis sonora) should be given top priority.

For Latin America they:

  IV 1   encourage the funding and supervision of research on otters with priority placed on the determination of distribution, habitat requirements, poaching, limiting factors or conservation threats, human impact, and ecology (feeding, behaviour and population ecology).
For Africa they recommend that:
  V 1   validity of Aonyx congica be confirmed genetically;
  V 2   valid information be obtained on the distribution, status, degree of legal protection and the prevailing, and possible threats for all species of otters in the African countries;
  V 3   areas where otters possibly can occur in Africa (but presently are not documented) be identified and surveys initiated;
  V 4   countries in Africa, where conflict exists between man and otters for freshwater fish resources be identified, and the extent of conflict quantified as far as possible;
  V 5   the extent and degree of hunting for skins (for trade) of otters in Africa be identified.

For Asia they recommend:

  VI 1   to promote the incorporation of known otter needs into EIAs;
  VI 2   to urge governments considering the use of organochlorines (including in the fight against malaria), to take into account the interests of otters and that environmentally sound methods of pest management be considered, developed, and used;
  VI 3   to promote better cooperation with NGOs and GOs active in wetland conservation and sound artificial wetland use (e.g. ricefields, general and pond fisheries);
  VI 4   due to the many otter taxa proposed for the region, the geographical setting of the Asian and particularly the Oriental faunistic region to assess the genetic variability of Asian otters to enable correct conservation measures;
  VI 5   VI 5. to conduct reliable field assessments including spraint collection for further taxonomic analysis of the Lutra lutra/Lutra sumatrana question;
  VI 6   to re-assess the viability of Lutra nippon on a comparative regional basis using larger sample sizes from otter species of the Asia Far Eastern region;
  VI 7   to initiate more research on human/otter interaction (otters' role in ricefields; otters' predation on pest crabs; otters' predation on introduced bullfrogs in South Korea; general fisheries issues; otters' predation on target species in fish- and prawn-ponds; otters' predation on pest species in fish- and prawn ponds);
  VI 8   conduct baseline surveys in regions largely uncovered by representatives so far (Syria; Lebanon; Jordan; Iraq; Kuwait; Arabian Peninsula; Afghanistan; Asian CIS: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgistan; Pakistan; Bangla Desh; Bhutan; Nepal; mainland and insular China; Taiwan; DPR Korea; Mongolia; Vietnam; Laos; Cambodia; Brunei Darussalam; Malaysia: Sarawak and Sabah; Indonesia: Sumatra and Borneo; Philipines: Palawan);
  VI 9   follow-up survey activities in the following countries: Turkey; Israel including the Palestine Areas; Iran; Russian Federation; South Korea; Japan; India; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Malaysia; Singapore; Indonesia: Java;
  VI 10   assess habitat requirements of Asian otters and trends in wetland habitat availability by using, e.g. GIS methods;
  VI 11   gain a better understanding of otters in the socio-cultural context in Asia (religious and philosophical context; legends and tales; art; consumptive and non-consumptive use of otters; use for medicinal purposes);
  VI 12   publication and awareness material/events/media activities on Asian otters are developed.

As group internal results the members of OSG:

  VII 1   accepted the wish of Padma de Silva to retire from the position of chair of the OSG. They thank her for the work she did in this position since 1994. The group accepted her suggestion to continue her work within the OSG as a co-ordinator for Asia and as a deputy chairperson of the OSG. The group also thanks Syad Hussain for his former work as co-ordinator for Asia and is happy that he agreed to continue his work within the group as a data base co-ordinator for Asia. The members of the OSG unanimously elected Claus Reuther as the new chairman of OSG and asked IUCN/SSC to appoint him to this position. The OSG co-ordinators are asked to develop procedures and guidelines for future decisions and/or elections of an internal nature;
  VII 2   wish to thank Arno Gutleb for his excellent work as the editor of the OSG Bulletin. They are happy that he offered to continue this work. All members of the OSG are asked to contribute to the bulletin and to use it as a platform of information transfer and for the discussion of specific questions related to otter conservation and research. To reduce the high personal economic risk of Arno Gutleb all members of OSG are reminded to subscribe to the bulletin. The members of OSG request that the Asian subgroup include its "Asian otters newsletter” into the OSG Bulletin.
  VII 3   thank Philip Bacon and Peter Eulberg for offering to establish a homepage in the world wide web for the OSG. Philip Bacon will clarify if the server of ITE/GB can be used for this and he is prepared to maintain the website. Peter Eulberg offered to compile and to layout the website. All members of the OSG are asked to contribute to the website and to ensure that it acts as a platform for an up-to-date information transfer;
  VII 4   are asked to focus interest on the situation of otters in the Middle-East. Everybody who has contacts to people or institutions in this region which can contribute to otter conservation are asked to give this information to the chairman of OSG. As long as no experienced person is available who can act as a co-ordinator for the Middle-East this region will be looked after by the chairman of OSG supported by the co-ordinators for Asia and Africa;
  VII 5   feel that it is necessary to define basic positions for otter protection and research. They request the chairman of OSG arrange discussions within the group and consult with external experts to:              
a. define the aims and priorities of the group regarding of otter conservation,
b. formulate fundamental positions on topics like re-introduction activities, solutions for the conflicts with fish production, guidelines for habitat management etc.
c. standardize or give guidelines for methods of research (such as survey methods in Europe, interpretation of scat analyses, post-mortem examination procedures, analysis of pollutants etc.);
  VII 6   reresolved that the European subgroup should have a meeting in 1999. The co-ordinator is asked to decide if this meeting will be held in connection with the 3rd European Congress of Mammalogy in Finland or if the group will follow the invitation of Marjana Hönigsfeld to meet in Slovenia. Main topics of this meeting will be:          
- the revision of the Otter Action Plan for Europe,          
- a workshop on the standardisation of the "standard" survey method,     
- a workshop for the definition of otter specific guidelines for re-introduction activities (within the framework of the IUCN regulations for re-introductions)
- a workshop on the progress of the European otter habitat network;tation of scat analyses, post-mortem examination procedures, analysis of pollutants etc.);
  VII 7   decided to accept the invitation of Gonzalo Medina to held the VIII. International Otter Colloquium in the year 2001 in Chile;
  VII 8   decided to revise the Otter Action Plan. They started this work by revising the draft for the contents and structure of the action plan formulated by Claus Reuther. The following board of editors was appointed:         
Claus Reuther (editor in chief)            
Michaela Bodner   
Gonzalo Medina    
Christof Schenck   
Padma de Silva      
Syad Hussain         
Paul Polechla          
Jan Nel     
Jim Estes  
Alexander Burdin  
It is planned to publish the revised Otter Action Plan in the year 2000;
  VII 9   decided to establish an e-mail link-up as a method of improving communication between all individuals and facilities working with, or interested in, otters in captive situations. This includes zoos, otter centres, rehabilitation facilities, field researchers, veterinarians, university students, laboratory scientists and dieticians. A central library and e-mail site was selected. This will be jrsotter@iserv.net, maintained by Janice Reed-Smith. All individuals interested in sharing and receiving information on keeping otters in captivity are requested to send their e-mail addresses, species of interest, and area of expertise to the above address;
  VII 10   welcome the announcement of Marc and Christiane Linet from Belgium to set up the "Linet otter prize” which will honour conservation activities of young people for the protection of any otter species and which will be awarded each second year with a sum of 2,000 USD.

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