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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 00:54 GMT
Bid to end rare otter fur trade
A small-clawed otter
Small-clawed otters are also hunted for their pelts
A charity is working to help end the illegal killing of rare otters in south east Asia and the trade in their furs.

Scottish-based Furget-Me-Not is backed by the Skye-based International Otter Survival Fund (Isof).

The first area to be targeted is Cambodia, where Asian small-clawed, smooth-coated and the rare hairy-nosed otters are caught for their pelts.

Grace Yoxon, of Isof, said the plan was to find alternative sources of money for fishermen who hunt the otters.

She said the survival fund was prompted to investigate the trade in otter fur after receiving a call from a company asking if it would supply them with pelts.

Mrs Yoxon, who runs a sanctuary with her husband Paul, said many of the furs ended up in Tibet for use in traditional dress.

She said: "In the west, people accept otters, but in the east they are small mammals that are just not important."

Wildlife rangers

The hairy-nosed otter had previously been thought extinct, but Mrs Yoxon said it, along with the smooth-coated, Asian small-clawed and Eurasian otter, were still being hunted in Cambodia.

Fishermen trap the animals to supplement their incomes.

Otters are listed on the database of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

The international agreement between governments aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Furget-Me-Not is attempting to raise $100,000 (51,160) to pay for workshops for wildlife rangers, leaflets and to help find alternatives for the fishermen.

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