Conservation and Research - Fauna Conservation
Otters in China
Fauna Conservation Flora Conservation Conservation by Site Collaborative Research in KFBG’s Nature Reserve Researchers Facilities

Eurasian Otter

Scientific name: Lutra lutra
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
IUCN Red List: Near Threatened
CITES: Appendix I
State Key Protected Animal List of China: Class II
Characteristics and distribution: Medium-sized compared to the two otter species found in China; widely distributed in China.

Asian Small-clawed Otter

Scientific name: Aonyx cinereus
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
CITES: Appendix I
State Key Protected Animal List of China: Class II
Characteristics and distribution: The world's smallest otter species; restricted to the tropical and subtropical regions of China.

Smooth-coated Otter

Scientific name: Lutrogale perspicillata
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
CITES: Appendix I
State Key Protected Animal List of China: Class II
Characteristics and distribution: Asia's largest otter species; no recent record in China.


Species profile

These three species of otters once occurred throughout the country, however, due to excessive hunting for their fur as pelt and their body parts as traditional medicine, their populations have dramatically declined and many local extinctions were reported as early as the 1980s. Although all three otter species are listed as Class II on the State Key Protected Animal List of China since 1989, there has been little conservation attention. On the contrary, their counterparts in western countries have long been popular subjects for research and conservation.

Our conservation work

The Kadoorie Conservation China Department (KCC) has been studying the three otter species in China since 2012. In 2016, we finally obtained images of the Asian Small-clawed Otter in Yunnan’s Yingjiang, and discovered a remnant population of Eurasian Otter in the busy Pearl River Delta of Guangdong. In 2017, we established the nation’s first Asian Small-clawed Otter monitoring team in Diaoluoshan of Hainan to monitor and protect the dwindling otter population. In 2019, we partnered with the IUCN SSC Otter Specialist Group and Sichuan Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve to convene the 14th International Otter Congress in which over 100 delegates from some 30 countries/regions gathered to discuss conservation and research efforts for otter species worldwide.