A ban on the domestic trade of two species of otters has taken effect in Japan to protect the endangered animals.
The move follows approval in August by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to ban the international commercial trade of the otters.
They are the Asian small-clawed otter and the smooth-coated otter, originally from South and Southeast Asia. The animals have recently become popular as pets in Japan.
The revised law requires that otters imported before the ban as well as domestically-bred otters be pre-registered for sale or transfer within the country.
If owners want to keep the animals as pets, registration is not necessary.
Environment Ministry officials say they will work hard to inform people of the new restrictions so that they will not be violated unknowingly.