The Otter Specialist Group

The Otter Specialist Group (OSG) was founded in 1974 and is part of World Conservation (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC). The aims of the Group, as set out by IUCN, are to:

  • Provide leadership for the conservation of all otter species (Lutrinae).
  • Determine and review on a continuing basis the status and needs of otters, and promote the implementation of necessary research, conservation and management programmes by appropriate organisations and governments.
  • Make known the status and conservation needs of otters, and promote the wise management of otter species.


As with all Specialist Groups of the World Conservation Union (IUCN),  group members are appointed by, and at the discretion of, the Chair of the OSG, who is appointed by SSC. Beyond a requirement to have a continental coordinator for each continent on which the group’s organism of interest is found, it is entirely up to the Chair how the group is organised and what kind of membership it has.

We believe that the aims of the group are best met by a broad range of skills, experience and disciplines, so the current membership covers zoologists, toxicologists, ecologists, conservation practictioners, wildlife rehabilitators, zoo personnel, educators and public communicators amongst others.

The Chair has set up a small Membership Team to handle applications and proposals for membership and to conduct the initial assessment.  This team consists of the two Deputy Chairs and the Continental Coordinators. The committee then recommends new appointees to the Chair.  If the Chair approves them, the Membership Secretary issues the formal invitation to join the group, acting on the Chair’s behalf, along with a letter of agreement to be signed and returned (a scan is fine).  The new member will then recieve a welcome pack, be added to the group’s email lists, and also become a member of the Species Survival Commission.

There are two levels of membership: full members and student members. Student membership is reviewed after the course of study ends to determine if the person intends to continue specialising with otters, and in this case may be upgraded to full membership.

Any member of the OSG can propose others for membership.  What we are looking for is people who demonstrate a long-term commitment to otter conservation, in the broadest sense – this means that we have a very wide range of members: researchers, environmentalists, ecologists, toxicologists, zoo staff, rehabilitators, vets, educators and many others.  This produces an active forum with a wide range of views, but everyone should have as their primary focus the continued survival of otters.

Click here to join our Otter Specialist Group!