The smooth-coated otter and the Asian small-clawed otter are now on the CITES list of animals with the highest level of protection from the wildlife trade. Asian small-clawed otters are particularly sought after as domestic pets and for ‘otter cafés,’ where wild otters are forced to interact with paying customers. Conservationists say that a trade ban was vital for the survival of the two species, whose numbers in the wild have fallen by at least 30% in the past 30 years. Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to place the smooth-coated otter and the Asian small-clawed otter on the list of animals with the highest level of protection from the wildlife trade. The recent CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP18) in Geneva, Switzerland considered many proposals and issued new protections for numerous species including giraffes, sharks and rays, and many more . CITES does not determine the risk of extinction of species, which is the domain of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its Red List of Threatened Species, but rather CITES’ role is to ensure that international trade in wild animals does not threaten their survival in the wild. […]

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