Lutra sumatrana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Lutra sumatrana (Gray, 1865)
Common Name(s):
English Hairy-nosed Otter
French Loutre de Sumatra
Spanish Nutria de Sumatra
Taxonomic Notes: Lutra sumatrana was first described by Raffles in 1822 as Lutra barang; by Gray in 1865 as Barangia sumatrana; and Lutra lovii by Gunther 1876. Pohle (1920) identified two subspecies L. s. lovii and L. s. brunnea. However, there is dispute about its authenticity (Pocock 1941). Recent genetic studies have confirmed it as a single species related to Lutra lutra (Koepfli et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-07-11
Assessor(s): Aadrean, A., Kanchanasaka, B., Heng, S., Reza Lubis, I., de Silva, P. & Olsson, A.
Reviewer(s): Hussain, S.A. & Duplaix, N.

It will never be possible to establish Hairy-nosed Otter’s pre-exploitation mainland range. Its populations are under rapid decline almost across mainland Southeast Asia, through trade-driven hunting (Duckworth and Hill 2008, Sheperd and Nijman 2014) and habitat degradation.This species is considered to be Endangered due to past population declines. The species is suspected to have declined by at least 50% or more in the past three generations (30 years based on Pacifici et al. 2013) due to illegal poaching and hunting, pollution, by catch and prey depletion due to over fishing. It is suspected that the current rates of decline will to continue into the future and further threaten this species. In its entire range the Hairy-nosed Otter is under increasing pressure due to intensive poaching. In Cambodia, around the Tonle Sap Lake and other places, poaching of otters and other wildlife is common practice. In Viet Nam, otters are hunted for illegal wildlife trade, for meat and medical use. Wildlife trade involving Lutra sumatrana as pets was recorded several time in Indonesia. The same is true for other range countries. The principal threat to the fauna of the Southeast Asia is the burgeoning human population, and resultant pressure of this growth on natural resources. Lack of adequate prey species and suitable undisturbed habitat are putting additional pressures on all wildlife species including the Hairy-nosed Otter. From these threats it is concluded that the Hairy-nosed Otter is under stress due to its restricted range, in which its habitat is under constant pressure and that there is every possibility of reduction in its population which has been inferred and future population is suspected to be under decline which may lead to decline in the area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and habitat quality. Combined with all these factors, extensive illegal exploitation of the species may lead to its extinction unless appropriate conservation measures are taken. Therefore, the species have been confirmed as Endangered under criterion A2cde.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Hairy-nosed Otter is the rarest and least known among the five species of otters occurring in Asia. It is endemic to Southeast Asia. The type specimen came from Sumatra. Once believed to be extinct, the Hairy-nosed Otter has been rediscovered in many parts of Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia, Viet Nam and Cambodia. Historically, it occurred from southern Indochina to Malaysia (Sebastian 1995) and Thailand (Lekagul and McNeely 1988, Kanchanasaka 2000). In Thailand it has been reported from Phru Toa Daeng Peat Swamp Forest (Kanchanasaka et al. 1998). From Viet Nam it has also been reported from U Minh Thuong Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta (Nguyen et al. 2001, Nguyen 2005, Nguyen et al. 2007) and from Cambodia it has been reported from Tonle Sap wetlands and the coastal zones (Long 2000, Poole 2003, A. Olsson pers. comm. 2014). It has been reported from Malaysia at Terengganu in 2003 and from Muar in 1995. It has been recently reported in Sumatra, Indonesia (Lubis 2005, Latifiana and Pickles 2013). Recently during a surveys of the wildlife trade in the town of Mong La, Shan State, Myanmar, three species of otters were observed, including a skin of a hairy-nosed otter. This observation constitutes the first record of Hairynosed Otter in trade in Myanmar (Shepherd and Nijman 2014). Historical records of its occurrence comes from the coast off of Penang Island (Harrison 1984), and from accidental road kill in Brunei in 1997 (Sasaki et al. 2009). From this, the possible range of hairy-nosed otter can be worked out which is eastward from northeast India (Indo-china), Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Countries occurrence:
Cambodia; Indonesia; Malaysia; Thailand; Viet Nam
Possibly extinct:
Brunei Darussalam
Regionally extinct:
India; Myanmar
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


In its distribution range the species is considered as rare. It has been studied in Phru Toa Daeng Peat Swamp Forest in Thailand (Kanchanasaka et al. 1998), U Minh Thuong Nature Reserve in Viet Nam (Nguyen et al. 2001, 2004) and in Tonle Sap from Cambodia (Poole 2003, Olsson et al.  2007). However, their abundance or group sizes are not known. In U Minha National Park though it was estimated that there were around 50-230 individuals. The species is believed to be extremely rare in Peninsular Malaysia (Sebastian 1995) and reported from scattered localities in the Borneo (Payne et al. 1985, Wright et al. 2008). 

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:In Thailand the Hairy-nosed Otter lives in Phru Toa Daeng Peat Swamp Forests (Kanchanasaka et al. 1998). In Viet Nam it has also been reported from the low lying peat swamp forests of U Minh Thuong Nature Reserve in Mekong Delta (Nguyen et al. 2001, Sage et al. 2004) and from Cambodia it has been reported from flooded forests of the Tonle Sap Lake inundation zone (Heng 2007) and in Melaleuca forests and in mangroves and estuaries along the coasts. It inhabits freshwater and coastal areas, especially mangroves in Indonesia. Wayre (1974, 1978) considered that the Hairy-nosed Otter mainly inhabited mountain streams above 300 m, Medway (1969) recorded it in the sea off Penang.

The Hairy-nosed Otter principally predates on fish (85.5%) followed by water snakes. They also supplement their diet with frogs, lizards, turtles, crabs, possibly small mammals and insects, although these may not be that important in its diet (Kanchanasaka 2007). Fish belonging to the families Channidae, Belontiidae, Anabantidae, Notopteridae, Synbranchidae, Clariidae, Nandidae, were identified in faecal samples from Thailand. The main prey identified were Three-spot Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus), Common Climbing Perch (Anabas testudineus), and snakeheads (Channa spp.) (Kanchanasaka 2007).

Not much is known about its breeding behaviour but there is indication that it breeds in November-December in the Mekong delta. Kanchanasaka et al. (2003) found that gestation was around two months as with other otters, and cubs were seen in December to February, and one family observed consisted of both parents and a cub. Based on camera trapping in Cambodia, mating season of hairy-nosed otter could be during between November and March (S. Heng pers. comm. 2014).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):10

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Otters are hunted for the illegal wildlife trade in skins, and also for their meat and for medical use.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Hairy-nosed Otter has a limited distribution range. In Thailand, the otters are found in the Toa Daeng peat swamp forests, and also from near the mouth of the Bang Nara River which is low lying and tidal. In Viet Nam, the species have been reported from low lying peat swamp forests dominated by Melaleuca cajuputi in lower Mekong. In Cambodia, the species mainly lives around the Tonle Sap Lake where the otters live mainly in the flooded forest and scrub surrounding the lake. Like many predators the Hairy-nosed Otter occurs in low density and the number and frequency of sightings are very few.

In recent years, the tropical peat swamp forests are under severe threat due to the increasing frequency of fires and other anthropogenic activities such as clearing of forest to grow plantations of oil palm and food crops such as rice, corn and soya bean. Forest is also cleared for fish farming. In Viet Nam the entire Mekong Delta has been converted into rice fields reducing the habitat of otter and other wildlife species into a few pockets. In Malaysia (Sabah), fire reduced 70% of the Binsulok Forest Reserve and 10% of the Klias Forest Reserve. This has affected the surrounding environment and the biodiversity. In Indonesia over the last 20 years, the ecosystem has been reduced from almost 30 million hectares to only about 15 million hectares, and most of what remains has already been logged selectively. Such levels of habitat modification have profound effects on the native biodiversity.

In its entire range the Hairy-nosed Otter is under increasing pressure due to intensive poaching (Yoxon and Yoxon 2007). In Cambodia, around the Tonle Sap Lake, poaching of otters and other wildlife is common practice. In Viet Nam otters are hunted for illegal wildlife trade, and also for meat and medical use.

Populations in Viet Nam are known only from two small National Parks that are under intense pressure from the surrounding dense human population. Though there are other areas within the Mekong Delta that could contain other populations, with Mui Ca Mau the notable example, most are too small in size and suffering from similar problems to U Minh Ha and U Minh Thuong National Park.

The illegal wildlife trade continues to grow and is the main factor behind this species decline. This trade shows no signs of abating and is likely to continue to push this species towards extinction. The natural low density of this species, its terrestrial ecology and its dependence on ecosystems that are often the first to be converted into agricultural land makes it extremely vulnerable to extinction.

The principal threat to the fauna of Southeast Asian region is the burgeoning human population, and resultant biomass demand which puts pressure on natural resources. Unavailability of adequate prey species and suitable undisturbed habitat are putting additional pressure on all wildlife species including Hairy-nosed Otter.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Lutra sumatrana is listed on Appendix II of the CITES. It is legally protected in all the range countries. In Thailand all otter species have been protected since 1961 under the Wild Animals Preservation and Protection Act and are listed as endangered species in the Thailand Red Data Book (Nabhitabhata and Chanard 2005). In Viet Nam, otters are protected and their hunting and use is strictly banned under the Government Decree 32/2006. In Cambodia, the Hairy-nosed Otter is listed as Rare and is considered  fully protected under the Law on Forestry 2002. In Malaysia, different levels of protection are accorded to otters. The Hairy-nosed Otter is Totally Protected in Peninsular Malaysia under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. In Sabah, the Hairy-nosed Otter is Protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997. In Sarawak all otter species are listed as Protected Animals under the First Schedule [Section 2(1)] PART II] of the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998. In Indonesia, the Hairy-nosed Otter is Protected under Law Number 7, 1999.  It is also not protected under Myanmar’s Protection of Wildlife and Wild plants and Conservation of Natural Areas Law.

Citation: Aadrean, A., Kanchanasaka, B., Heng, S., Reza Lubis, I., de Silva, P. & Olsson, A. 2015. Lutra sumatrana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T12421A21936999. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
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