Awardee Diana Limjoco enjoys a walk at the beach with her otter friend. | Photo courtesy of Andrew Duncan Murrell.

A Palaweña was recognized by the 2020 International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF), notably known by the global conservationist community as the Otter Oscar Awards, for her contributions and campaign to protect the Asian short-clawed otters in the Philippines.

Diana Limjoco, formerly of Batangas but has been residing in Puerto Princesa City for 11 years, bagged a special award as an ambassador for otters across Palawan.

She was among this year’s Otter Oscar Award winners for her work in protecting the habitats, ensuring that they remain intact and otters in need are receiving appropriate care.

Other award recipients came from the following England, Laos, Vietnam, Argentina, and Scotland.

“I was surprised as I didn’t enter the contest. The whole panel unanimously voted to give it to me as a special award,” Limjoco told Palawan News in an interview Saturday.


Asian short-clawed otter. | Photo from D. Limjoco

Limjoco has been lending a hand for Palawan otters and campaigned successfully to protect them.

She has been working with IOSF and has three Asian short-clawed otters, but one died after a year it was given to her by a local villager.

“A local villager who said the mother was accidentally killed [gave it to me]. They gave me three, but after just under a year, one died. That was when I called upon IOSF to help me raise them. And they taught me everything I needed to keep them alive,” Limjoco added.

Limjoco said that she hopes to raise “public awareness” as most people initially have very low awareness about the importance and existence of otters in Palawan.

“I hope to raise public awareness that they even exist as most people don’t realize we have them and are invading their territories,” she said.

She said that among the various social media platforms, she is using her blogs and Youtube channel to raise awareness about otters. She was also tapped to do documentaries for “worldwide release”.

“All I can do is raise awareness through my blogs and Youtube channels. This is how most scientists have come to know Palawan has otters. Then they have contacted me to do documentaries for worldwide release,” Limjoco said.

Limjoco explained that she is specifically concerned with “orphaned otters” as the agency in the Province is not doing the “proper protocols” for otters release.

Locally known as “dungon”, although not yet endangered, these otters were up-listed to “vulnerable” and “declining” according to IOSF due to poaching and habitat loss.


Photo from Andrew Duncan Murrell

In 2019, the initiative to protect otters has been pushed to upgrade from Appendix II to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Flora and Fauna Species.

“I am hoping the public can be made aware of their environmental value so they stop selling them to poachers and respect them as they do in Singapore,” Diana said.

IOSF is one of the world’s leading otter charities dedicated to the conservation, protection, and care of otters. (with a report from Jeshyl Guiroy)