Otters, tortoises and other animals in the cruel exotic pet trade now have increased protection

02 December 2019

A ban on the international commercial trade of Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters, Indian Star tortoises and many other animals came into effect on November 26

Every day, thousands of wild animals are poached, bred or farmed and sold into the global, multi-billion-dollar exotic pet trade. Regardless of whether this trade is legal or illegal, these animals suffer terribly.

Thanks to decisions made at the CITES 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) in August 2019, Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters, Indian Star tortoises and many other animals targeted and traded for the exotic pet trade will now have increased protection from exploitation.

An otter kept as a pet in Japan

An otter kept as a pet in Japan

New laws to stop wild poaching

Now that more than ninety days have passed since the decisions were made in Geneva, the up listing to Appendix I for the two Asian otter species (the small-clawed and smooth-coated otters) and for the Indian Star tortoise, are in full force.

This means that the international trade in these species is prohibited for commercial purposes. Effectively, wild caught specimens will no longer be legally permitted for international trade for entertainment or to become someone’s pet.

The animals we advocated for

Our report, launched earlier this year, revealed that otters suffer at the hands of those involved in the illegal trading of wildlife. Southeast Asia has seen a massive rise in the popularity of otters as pets. Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otter populations have declined by more than 30% in the last 30 years.

Not only is it cruel and potentially dangerous to keep an otter as a pet, this trend is even putting the very future of some otter species at risk.

Watch our documentary on this cruel trade.

Smooth coated otters relax in Singapore

Smooth coated otters relax in Singapore

The online trade and a high increase of posts on social media depicting a false narrative that otters make good pets is driving the demand for keeping otters as exotic pets.

This popularity is fuelling the illegal hunting, illegal trafficking, and unregulated captive breeding of otters, including baby otters.

We welcome the strengthened protections for these animals which came into effect on Tuesday November 26.

Listing these species in Appendix I will raise the profile and priority of these species with enforcement agencies.

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We welcome the strengthened protections for these animals
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