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- Rare or very rare across most of its range (Mason & Macdonald 1990)
- Locally common in areas of Angola, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
- Population decreasing throughout their range, but not enough to trigger endangered or threatened status with the IUCN.
- Population estimates difficult
- In good habitats, estimates of 1 otter/1-2 km of stream; less than ideal habitats, 1 otter/6-11 km. (Perrin et al 2000)
- Current status of this species in the wild still largely unknown (Benza et al 2009)
- Populations considered to be declining (Benza et al 2009)
- Near Threatened (2014 assessment) (Reed-Smith et al. 2015)
- 2008: Least Concern
- 2004: Least Concern
- 2000: Vulnerable
- 1999: Vulnerable
- 1996: Lower Risk/least concern
Several proposals by the IUCN/SSC address the specific needs for this animal's future (Mason & Macdonald 1990):
- In lakes and large river systems of central Africa, baseline population surveys are urgently needed
- Ecological requirements of this poorly known species should be studied in the wild.
- Research studies should help guide management practices in protected areas.
- Efforts should be made to reduce habitat fragmentation by "broadly based integrated management programs" especially in lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, Malawi, Edward, Kivu, Muhazi, Bulera, and Luhondo plus rivers of Congo Basin.
- Local fishing methods, especially fish traps, need to reduce accidental otter deaths.
- Educational efforts should be consider larger issues of human population growth (documented in the region with a current doubling rate of 25 years), agricultural and grazing practices, and toxic waste problems.
Threats to Survival
Habitat loss and degradation (Reed-Smith et al. 2015)
- Human-caused loss or degradation of freshwater habitats
- Loss of vegetation and erosion along edges of waterways from domestic grazers, burning, cultivation. (Rowe-Rowe 1990) (Perrin & Carranza 2000) (Kruuk and Goudswaard 1990)
- Unsustainable agricultural and fishing practices
Hunting and fishing
- Human hunters kill otters for bushmeat food and for their skins, for being a threat to poultry, for eating fish desired by fishermen. (Rowe-Rowe 1990)
- Use in traditional medicine may be increasing. (Benza et al. 2009)
- Entanglement in gill nets and fish traps. (Stuart 1985)
- Organochlorines and other contaminants such as PCBs in water from agricultural, industrial and domestic sources. (Mason & Macdonald 1990) (Mason and Rowe-Rowe 1992)
Lack of appropriate prey
- Introduced species of fish, as the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria; they are too large to be a prey item for spot-necked otters. (Perrin & D'Inzillo Carranza 2000a)
Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
Benza et al (2009)
Kruuk and Goudswaard (1990)
Mason & Macdonald (1990)
Mason and Rowe-Rowe (1992)
Perrin & D'Inzillo Carranza (2000, 2000a)
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Fact Sheet Index
Fact sheet index, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library
Home page, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library
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