Dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters
Adopt : Donate : Donate Monthly : Ottershop : Join our mailing list


World Otter Day

News of Otters

Otter Blog

Otter Oscars

Paul's Blog (external)


Join our mailing list

Latest Annual Report

23 March 2023 - Meet William and See What's Been Happening in Tanzania!

Submitted by: Callum

* Meet William! *

Tanzanian otter conservation awareness work is thriving!

William Mgomo, IOSF’s African Education Co-ordinator, continued his tireless work in otter conservation by visiting Lipilipili Primary school, Mbinga district during his break from university. During his outreach programme, William spoke to 328 pupils on the importance of conserving otters and their challenges.

With this latest update from William, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask him some questions about his work, and what motivates him to make Tanzania a better place for otters!

So, IOSF followers and supporters, please meet William Mgomo!

William Mgomo

* William, what inspired you to want to help otters, and get into otter conservation?

I started my interest on otters after seeing them on National Geographical channel and then attending the IOSF Otter training workshop that was held in Mweka, Tanzania in 2015.

* And which otter species is your main focus?

The main focus is on African clawless otter and Spotted-necked otter.

* What are the major threats faced by otters in Tanzania?

There are a number of threats to otters in my area, such as:
Poaching for the purpose of bush meat, skin and traditional medicine
Otter conflict between fish farmers and fishermen
Destruction of habitats through agricultural activities
Depletion of food due to pesticides
Poor fishing practice, such as small size of fishing net, use of poison
They are also killed due to beliefs from fishermen that otters possess a special root in their mouth that helps them to catch fish easily. So they are hunted in order to get the root from the otter, with fishermen believing that if they tie it on fishing nets, it will help them catch plenty of fish.

* Do you feel people in general understand the importance of otters in respect to the environment/biodiversity?

Not all, but there are some people who understood the importance of otters in respect to the environment, mainly the conservationists and people who have been exposed to conservation awareness.

* Do you feel otters get a poor deal with conservation awareness, against some larger species, like the Lion, Rhino, Elephant, etc?

Yes, otter awareness/conservation is less of a concern compared to large species of animals. Many conservation efforts concentrate on large species and forget about small species and their potential in ecology.

* What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

The most challenging aspect of work is funding for work, and to change the beliefs of fishermen toward otter as it takes time.

* What is the best part of your otter work - or your greatest success?

To reach many people through education awareness programmes such as visiting schools, village meetings, radio station shows and YouTube channel.

A big thank you to William for answering our questions with some fantastic and insightful responses. We hope you keep up the amazing work you do for otters, for many years to come!

* How William's Passion for Otters has Affected Their Conservation in Tanzania *

William has inspired many people throughout his time raising awareness for otters. This inspiration has lead to more people spreading the word of the struggle of the otter, through outreach work across many villages of Tanzania.

Ashura Talagimbudzah and Mrisho Mohamedi, who we have met in previous emails, have been continuing their work across the country, and they have also recently sent us updates on their progress.


Ashura has spent a number of months on community outreach programmes in the Ruvuma region, with a particular focus on the Tundura and Namtumbo districts, a place known to have resident otters.

Ashura visited different areas to teach on the importance of otters, their conservation and how they can support it. Ashura also worked with teachers to help include more otter awareness work, either in the class room or as an extra-curricular activity.

Over the visits, Ashura has visited 68 villages and reached out to a total of, wait for it... 20,208 people – a truly astonishing number.

Mrisho with fishermen

Mrisho, whose project has been supported by IOSF, had a fantastic conservation idea that spanned two different wetland environments, wetland and coastal. It was interesting to see the variations in the results that Mrisho found, in terms of otter conflicts, and otter populations.

In Bagamoyo, a coastal area on the Indian ocean, he met with 40 fishermen and discovered there was little to no conflict with otters. The fishermen mentioned that they are unsure of otter’s presence and suggested that high noise levels/disturbance could be a reason for that. They were highly grateful to Mrisho for visiting and spreading the word on otter conservation and their ecological importance.

On the other hand, in the Makurunge area, conflict with fishermen was substantially higher. The areas of higher conflict were areas of healthy fish populations, and otters were known to damage fishing equipment. One of the farmers showed Mrisho such damage, and also a footprint (picture below) believed to be from the potential culprit. They also believe that otters are far stronger and more powerful than any other animals of their size, and that hunting for traditional medicines is still a belief – to increase sexual ability.

Foot print Tanzania

The print of a potential fishing opportunist

Mrisho discussed conflict management solutions with the fishermen in the area, in an attempt to develop steps that can help both the otters and the people. He explained the benefits of having local otter populations, to which the fishermen were receptive. The fishermen are looking at ways in which they can reduce any conflicts with otters, and perhaps by adapting their methods, they can peacefully co-exist with the otters.

Mrisho School Visit

Finally, during the outreach, Mrisho visited around 400 children at Mwanbao primary school. During the day with the school, he taught about the importance of otters, of which some children were aware of, and also the importance of environmental conservation as a whole. He spent some time doing a litter pick with the kids to emphasise the importance of helping our natural habitat.

All this work is inspiring, and furthermore, the recent finding of an African clawless otter in the Morogora region has been fantastic. There are plans to further restore their habitat and create a better place for their survival.

Tanzania is a hive of activity, and William’s evident passion is clearly inspiring other individuals to take part in otter conservation and really make a difference.

Tanzania is an inspiration to us all.

16 March 2023 - The Otter News of February!

Submitted by: Callum

Our February Newsletter is now available to read on our website!

Wildlife Alliance - Cambodia

Image from Wildlife Alliance - Cambodia (Read all about it by following the link!)

What articles will you find in our latest newsletter?

- Otters and Beavers
- More Exaggerated Claims of “Killer Otters”
- News from The Sanctuary
- Bird Flu Protocol
- An Update from Cambodia
- A Mediterranean Otter
- Otters in The Himalayas
- Anniversaries
- World Otter Day
- Otter Shop Product of the Month
- Events
- Photo of The Month
- Remembering a Friend of IOSF

and of course... News in Brief!


09 March 2023 - This Week from IOSF!

Submitted by: Callum

* News from the Sanctuary! *
We have had a visitor!

Visitor trail

Visitor print

We are well known for being lucky enough to help injured and orphaned cubs return to the wild through our Sanctuary, but it isn't just those who need our help that find themselves at IOSF HQ!

Our residents have been known to have visits from otters that live outside of the enclosures, who pop in to see how their Sanctuary journeys are going! The latest deluge of snow on the Isle of Skye provided us with a wonderfully crisp path from our visitor, as seen in the photos above!

At the IOSF Sanctuary, we limit human interaction with the otters in our care to the absolute minimum (feeding and enclosure cleaning/new bedding). This helps the otters to retain the mindset of a wild animal, in preparation for their release when the time is right. For this reason, photo opportunities for the otters are very few, (especially in the colder temperatures), as their natural instincts tell them to hide away from humans when they can!

All of the otters currently in our care (Baird, Bealltainn, Dobhran, Eden and Marina) are doing really well, and as I am sure you can imagine, they have been making themselves warm and cosy in their sleeping boxes!

* World Otter Day Grants! *
Time is running out!

WOD Grants 23

If you have an idea for a World Otter Day project, but need a little help on the funding side, our grant scheme could be the perfect thing for you!

Entries close on Friday 24th March, so be quick! CLICK HERE for more information and to send in your entry! Winners will be announced the following week.

* Team Otter Art Contest *

Art contest

The Team Otter Kids Art Competition closes this coming Friday (10th March), so this is your last chance to get those masterpieces in to Ben!

The competition is open to anyone aged 16 years and under from anywhere in the world! Winners will be announced the week commencing 13 March and will receive an exciting surprise prize! To send your entries, simply email with your name, age and the picture(s) you want to enter!

01 March 2023 - Meet Sarah Neill!

Submitted by: Callum

* Meeting Otter Conservationists from Around the World! *

Sarah Neill

We have known Sarah for many years and she has been working with otters since 2006. She has helped in the rescue and rehabilitation of many orphaned otter cubs found in Cumbria and provides their initial care until they are strong enough to travel to the IOSF otter sanctuary on Skye.

She is a lecturer at the Kendal College Animal Rescue Centre, which was the UK’s first teaching animal rescue centre. Lisbeth Tuckey is one of the two resident vets there and we met her over 20 years ago when she visited Skye, so we have a great connection with the Kendal team.

Sarah is a trained marine biologist and has so many interests in marine species, although she cares passionately for all wildlife. Her most recent project was as co-expedition leader to study orca and humpback whales 350 km north of the Arctic Circle with Sea Women Expeditions. They were collecting data on behaviour and also collecting critical biological and environmental data about the warming arctic environment.

Sarah has been a supporter of IOSF since 2012, giving talks and holding fundraising events. In her role as a lecturer at Kendal College she encourages her students to be aware of otters, their conservation, and consider carrying out their dissertation into an otter-related topic.

In 2020 she joined the IOSF Board so that she can help promote and develop our work further.

Sarah working in the USA

arah with the Sea Otter statue at The Marine Mammal Centre in California.

So without further ado, please meet... Sarah Neill!!

We know you work with a variety of animals, but what particularly endears you to otters? And also, what is your favourite and least favourite thing about working with them?

Having grown up reading the Ring of Bright Water, it always conjured up a magical feeling about the otter for me. That combined with them being so elusive only reinforced that feeling. It felt a bit like they lived in a secret world. I first started working with Asian short-clawed otters many years ago back when I was an aquarist, and did not see my first wild otter until I moved to the Lake District, which was a magical moment! My favourite thing about working with otters is how sassy and full of character they are, each individual has a different personality. Its very hard to have a least favourite thing about working with otters!

What made you want to help otters/get into otter conservation?

When I first started working with Asian otters as an aquarist, I saw how intelligent and inquistivie otters were. I really wanted to improve husbandry and enrichment, encourage natural behaviours, and make sure they had the best quality of life under my care. Every facility I worked at I devised better diets, husbandry, training and enrichment programmes. Then one day somebody brought two wild orphaned Eurasian otter cubs to my workplace, which was a total surprise, and I ended up rearing them under the guidance of IOSF (Bubble and Squeak). This is what introduced me to the work of the IOSF and made me want to do even more for otter conservation. I immediately got involved in raising awareness, fundraising and otter rehabilitation.

Do you feel people in general understand the importance of otters in respect to the environment/biodiversity?

I think some people do but unfortunately many do not appreciate the otter as a keystone species and excellent environmental indicator. Unfortuately otters still face persecution, and more people need to understand their ecological importance.

What do you feel is the biggest ‘hurdle’ in otter conservation/rehab?

I think the biggest hurdle is that otters worldwide face such a multitude of threats, from the illegal wildlife trade (pets and furs), to pollution, to habitat loss, to human disturbance etc.. yet there seems to be a big lack of awareness about all these threats that they face. Many of my students are shocked to learn that for every one tiger skin found illegally there are 10 otter furs!

What's the best part of your work (with otters/wildlife/conservation)?

My role now working at Kendal College combines my love of education, conservation and caring for animals. In 2017 I co-wrote our foundation degree course in British Animal Management and Wildlife Rehabilitation alongside my friend and colleague Dr. Lisbeth Tuckey, who is a veterinarian. Not only do we get to teach the next generation of animal carers the highest standards of welfare, and enthuse the next generation of conservationists to restore and protect the natural world, but we are also unique in being the first college in the country to run a genuine wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre on site. Facilities include an intensive care and treatment room with industry-standard surgical equipment and digital x-ray facilities to provide the highest level of care for animals. It is a great feeling being able to admit an animal, be a part of its recovery and then see its subsequent release back into the wild where it belongs.

And finally.... What has been your favourite otter 'moment'?

I have so many! But last summer I went to Monterey Bay in California and I really hoped I would be lucky enough to see a wild sea otter. I was snorkelling at Breakwater when all of a sudden two wild sea otters popped up next to me! I stayed very still so as not to disturb them, and was alert and ready to scare them off if necessary, as I know that although they look incredibly cute they are in fact dangerous wild animals! Luckily for me they were just curious, once they had investigated me for a few minutes they swam off, but it was an amazing encounter!

A massive thank you to Sarah for talking to us about all things otter, and we wish both her, and the team at Kendal College Animal Rescue Centre, well for the future.


Blog Archive