Scotland’s otters have found themselves a new champion in the form of MSP Kate Forbes.
Ms Forbes, who represents Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, was invited to take up the role of species champion by the the Ullapool Sea Savers group.
She joined the group and representatives of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and International Otter Survival in Broadford on the Isle of Skye to find out more about otters and the threats they face.
“Otters play an important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem where so many different species can thrive,” Ms Forbes said.
“I am proud to represent a constituency that contains such a diverse range of species and today I’m delighted to become species champion for the otter.”
The otter is one of Scotland’s top predators but came close to extinction in the middle of the 20th century as a result of widespread pesticide pollution.
Legal protections and cleaner waters have enabled numbers of the cuddly carnivores to recover, with Scottish Natural Heritage estimating the otter population in Scotland at around 8,000 animals.
Ben Yoxon from the International Otter Survival Fund said: “We are delighted to have Kate Forbes take on the role of species ambassador for otters and would like to offer a massive thank you to the Ullapool Sea Savers team for their efforts to make this happen.
“Otters are vital to a healthy, balanced ecosystem and therefore having them represented by our MSP will have positive implications on all species with which they co-exist.
“Otters are one of Scotland’s most famous species and this ambassadorial position can help maintain their populations.”