Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 09:37 UK

Fishermen inspired by hairy otter

Otter, Dara (Pic: Conservation International (Cambodia))
Dara was kept illegally as a fisherman's pet

The only hairy-nosed otter to be kept legally in captivity is inspiring efforts to better protect the species, according to a Scottish-based charity.

The International Otter Survival Fund (Isof) on Skye has an agreement with Phnom Tamau Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia to fund its care.

The otter, named Dara, had been kept as a fisherman's pet on Tonle Sap Lake, before ending up in an illegal zoo.

Isof said attention surrounding Dara had led to greater conservation work.

Under its Furget-Me-Not campaign, the Scottish charity has been working with Conservation International Cambodia in community education work around Tonle Sap Lake.

The two organisations are also training a national team of biology students and villagers.

Isof said local rangers and fishermen were now reporting the sites of illegal nets set to catch otters for their fur.

Thought extinct

The charity's Paul Yoxon said: "This is the real way forward to counter the fur trade, by getting the community involved and providing a way for people to make a living without killing otters.

"The Cambodian people are seeing Dara and now don't want to kill otters."

The hairy-nosed otter had previously been thought extinct, but 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.


SEE ALSO
Bid to end rare otter fur trade
21 Jan 08 |  Highlands and Islands

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