Grace Yoxon knows her otters. She and her husband Paul started The International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) on the Isle of Skye thirty years ago. "We have both loved wildlife since we were very young – well, as long as we can remember," she says. "We both studied geology at university and first went to Skye on a field trip. We fell in love with the island and moved here in 1980."
A few years later, they opened the Skye Environmental Centre and began teaching wildlife and geology courses. They didn't see their first otter until 1985, though. "We were looking at the rocks, and it came out and ate a fish in front of us!" she exclaims. Word got around that they "cared about animals. People started bringing us orphaned and injured creatures, and we had our first otter in 1988. So, now we were hooked!"
As time went by, the Yoxons began feeling more and more strongly that they "wanted to put something back into wildlife," particularly for the otters. That feeling led to the creation of the IOSF in 1993. The organization's reach goes far beyond the island, which is part of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland: it works with otter rescuers and rehabilitators in thirty countries, including Nepal, Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belarus, Georgia, Kenya, and Nigeria. The IOSF has also assisted people with otter cubs in fourteen countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Guyana, Ecuador, Hungary, and Ireland. "We don't actually have agents or representatives in these countries but work very closely with people who are active in otter work."