Japanese Otter – R.I.P.

A bit of bad news.  I didn’t realise how bad it was for this particular critter unil I heard from a friend.  Again, extinction brought about by the usual reasons*.

Article from the Mainichi.


Japanese river otter declared extinct

          A stuffed Japanese river otter is seen at the Aichi Expo in this March 4, 2005 file photo. (Mainichi)
A stuffed Japanese river otter is seen at the Aichi Expo in this March 4, 2005 file photo. (Mainichi)

 The Japanese river otter, which had been categorized as a critically endangered species, was declared extinct by the Ministry of the Environment on Aug. 28.

In making the announcement, the ministry said the species of otter, designated as a special natural monument, had not been sighted for over 30 years.

The Japanese river otter is the first mammal in Japan confirmed to have survived until the Showa period (1926-1989) before being designated extinct. The four other species of mammal that had already been declared extinct in Japan — the Okinawa megabat Pteropus loochoensis, the Ogasawara bat Pipistrellus sturdeei, the Hokkaido wolf, and the Honshu wolf — had not survived past the Meiji period (1868-1912).

The Japanese river otter, which belongs to the Mustelidae family, had a body length of about 110 centimeters, and had lived in rivers across Japan. However, it was hunted for its fur, and its habitat was destroyed by development, leading to a rapid decline in the otter’s numbers.

The last formal sighting of the otter was in 1979, in a river in Susaki, Kochi Prefecture. Records show that a Japanese river otter was kept at a zoo in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, between 1956 and 1969.

Based on an overall evaluation of past survey records and sightings, the Environment Ministry concluded that the species disappeared from Hokkaido in the 1950s, and from Honshu and areas further south in the 1990s.

However, Yoshihiko Machida, a professor emeritus at Kochi University, suggested the ministry’s announcement may have been made too early.

“There was a case of otter droppings being confirmed in 1999. I think it is possible that they still exist, and I want to continue my investigations,” he said.

Another mammal, a bat from Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture, scientifically referred to as Rhinolophus pumilus miyakonis, was also declared extinct — the last sighting being in 1971. Meanwhile, the Asian black bear, which had been listed as having a threatened local population in the Kyushu region, was removed from this list as its existence in Kyushu had not been confirmed since one of the bears was captured in 1957, and it is now being treated as extinct in Kyushu.

Besides mammals, one species of bird, one species of insect, one species of shellfish and two species of plants were also declared extinct by the ministry.

Article ends.

Article from The Japan Times


Japanese river otter declared extinct


The Japanese river otter has been designated as extinct now that none has been seen for more than 30 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Environment Ministry.

News photo
Going, going: A river otter eats a fish in the Shinjo River in Susaki, Kochi Prefecture, in June 1979. The Environment Ministry has declared the mammal species extinct. KOCHI SHIMBUN / KYODO

Long categorized as an endangered species, the river otter is the first mammal to be declared extinct since the ministry started compiling such data in 1991.

The last one was spotted in Susaki, Kochi Prefecture, in 1979.

The Asiatic black bear, a regionally endangered species, has also been declared extinct in Kyushu.

The otters, which when fully grown measured about 1 meter long, lived on fish and shrimp.

They were found across the nation before the war but started to decline as many were hunted for their fur and as their habitats became polluted.

Article Ends.

*The usual reasons – over-hunting and/or habitat destruction.  Also, human stupidity.

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