The main threat to the Palawan Asian small-claw is the continued destruction of its habitat due to developmental activities. These activities include logging, agricultural plantation, mining and infrastructure build-up and as a result the otter’s natural habitats are being transformed at an alarming rate.
Another important threat to Asian Small-clawed Otter is reduction in prey biomass due to over-exploitation, which makes its remaining habitats unsustainable. Pollution is probably the single most important factor causing decline in the population of many fish species which indirectly causes damage to the otter’s food source. Contaminants can also have direct effects on the otters too via acute toxicity, effecting reproduction rates, lowering the immune systems leading to a decline in the populations.
Otters are also regularly killed for food and for their fur pelts. They are harvested throughout the region as their fur demands a high price in illegal wildlife trade. Poaching is difficult to control as the price of a pelt is often much more than a month’s wage in some countries. Otter trade is not only in fur, there is a huge demand for live otters as exotic pets as a result of their charismatic nature and pups are often taken away from their parents who are then subsequently killed for their meat.
The global conservation status Asian small-claw has been identified as ‘Vulnerable to extinction” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is protected internationally under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Appendix II) since 1977. Although they have this protected status, enforcement remains very limited. In the Philippines the Asian small-claw is protected in the under The Wildlife Act RA 9147 which aims to conserve and protect wildlife resources and their habitat, however records on otter’s population are lacking and consequently the conservation status of the small-clawed otter in Palawan is currently unknown.