World leaders agree on ban on international commercial trade of smooth-coated otter

Published: Aug 27, 2019, 12:15 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

It may be noted that the smooth-coated otter will now be listed on Appendix I of CITES which lists species threatened with extinction and prohibits commercial trade in them internationally

World leaders agree on ban on international commercial trade of smooth-coated otter
This picture has been used for representational purposes only

There is some good news for the conservation of smooth-coated otter as a ban on international commercial trade has been agreed by an overwhelming majority by world leaders who attended the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18), currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland.

It may be noted that the smooth-coated otter will now be listed on Appendix I of CITES which lists species threatened with extinction and prohibits commercial trade in them internationally.

The smooth-coated otter is found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and several other Asian countries. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, smooth-coated otters are vulnerable to extinction. Poaching, illegal trade, demand for young otters in the pet trade, in addition to habitat loss, pollution, overfishing and climate change, are among the conservation concerns for these two species.

Humane Society International/India and its global affiliate Humane Society International, part of one of the largest global animal protection charities in the world has welcomed the CITES uplisting as essential to the survival of these species.

Senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, Mark Simmonds, said, "This Asian otter species are being adversely affected in the wild by a wide variety of threats, including habitat loss, pollution and trade both for their fur pelts and, increasingly, for growing pet trade. The ‘cuteness’ of this species may prove their down-fall in that many people, especially in Asia, now want to own them. Classified as Vulnerable by IUCN, these otters will now benefit from this very welcome, precautionary agreement to place them on CITES Appendix I which effectively bans international trade for commercial purposes and removes one of the key threats that they face. Hopefully, this listing will also inspire further vital actions within the otters’ home ranges to ensure their survival. We commend India, Nepal and Bangladesh for bringing these proposals forward, and all the countries and conservation organizations that supported them."

Also read: Explore the otter side

Sumanth Bindumadhav, HSI/India's wildlife campaign manager who presented an intervention on the floor of CITES CoP on behalf of 26 other national and international non-profit organisations, said, "An Appendix I listing will benefit this otter species by sending necessary market signals, including to online and social media audiences, that trade in them is detrimental to their welfare and survival. It will also add further trade controls, enhance scrutiny of captive-breeding operations, and aid enforcement, given the difficulty in distinguishing between tropical Asian otter species once in a trade.”

The decision needs to be ratified at the plenary session of the CITES conference on August 27/28th and the proposal to up-list the second otter species, the small-clawed otter will conclude today i.e. 26th of August, Geneva time.

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