Tag Archives: endagered species

Gosh… goshawk

24 Sep

Hi blog.

Coming off a five-day long weekend (only four for me, thanks to school Sports Day), I stumbled upon a news item on the front page of a newspaper in the staff room and, lo and behold, the same article appeared in the English version of the Yomiuri Shimbun.


Goshawk to be removed from rare species list

Courtesy of Japan Accipiter Working Group

A goshawk, currently designated a rare domestic species

8:44 pm, September 22, 2015

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Environment Ministry will likely remove the goshawk from the rare domestic species list as early as next spring because conservation efforts have successfully restored their population, according to sources.

The ministry concluded that the population of goshawks successfully recovered thanks to protection measures in its habitats and will remove the species from the list under the Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Goshawks are regarded as “symbols of nature conservation” for stopping unrestrained land development. The ministry expects opposition toward its planned move, so sources say it plans to carry out protection measures like population surveys.

The goshawk is a bird of prey that grows as large as about 50 centimeters in length, found in forests from Hokkaido to Kyushu. They feed on pigeons and small mammals from their perch at the top of the ecosystem of satoyama woodlands near populated areas.

Goshawk numbers declined as Japan’s economic growth shot up, at a time when there was rapid housing land development. A 1984 survey by the Wild Bird Society of Japan estimated that the nation’s goshawk population stood at only 300 to 480.

Goshawks were subsequently designated a rare species when the Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was enforced in 1993.

The planned sites for the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 and the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture were revised when goshawk nesting areas were confirmed in those areas.

Thanks to these conservation efforts, an Environment Ministry survey in 2008 estimated there were up to 8,950 goshawks.

The ministry began considering the removal of goshawks from the rare species list in 2013 and has consulted with the public. The ministry also sent questionnaires to researchers and experts last summer about the status of goshawks, and, according to sources, decided there was “subsequently no drastic decline” in population numbers and deemed the removal was appropriate.

The Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora obliges owners and possessors of land to “give consideration to the conservation” of designated species at risk of extinction, and in principle bans them from being captured or traded.

There are 130 domestic species on the list, including the Japanese crested ibis, and 688 species are designated as internationally endangered species.

Article ends.

I’m interpreting this as largely good news – “up to 8,950 goshawks” still sounds a small-ish number.  I’d be much happier to hear about, say, 8,950 confirmed breeding pairs.  I’m also a tad cynical about various lists in Japan which appear to be little more than exactly that – lists.  (I suppose we should be thankful that hawks aren’t considered part of food culture since “in principle” rarely translates into “in practice”)

In the meantime, go goshawks!

No Albatross around my neck…

6 Apr

And a good south wind sprung up behind;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariners’ hollo!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Hi blog.

Japanese TV news is notoriously poor.  One is lucky to catch a genuine news item in between the sports, weather, reports about food and fashion, and celebrity gossip.

Fortunately, I happened to be paying attention when an item about the short tailed albatross breeding program came up.  A quick internet search came up with a couple of relevant recent articles – bless the Japan Times – so sit back and enjoy.



Conservationists aim to nurture population of endangered albatross on Torishima Island

Feb 18, 2015

On uninhabited Torishima Island, in the Pacific Ocean about 600 km south of Tokyo, every day is hard physical work for the Environment Ministry officials trying to conserve an endangered albatross population.

Ranger Koji Nitta, 54, joins researchers in traveling to the island in the Izu Island chain every summer after albatrosses have bred and departed on their annual journey to the North Pacific.

His job is to cut down the shrubs that could obstruct the birds when taking off, and place sandbags around their breeding ground to keep mud out.

“What we do is to support their breeding, and that’s the only thing humans can do,” Nitta said.

“It’s a series of simple tasks,” he said. “Our conservation work is substantially physical work.”

Some call albatrosses “queens of the sea” because of their white feathers and ability to fly for hours without flapping their wings.

Hundreds of thousands are believed to have lived on islands in the Northwest Pacific, but over-hunting for their feathers pushed them to the verge of extinction. Conservation efforts, however, have helped the population to recover to an estimated 3,500.

In Japanese, albatrosses are known as “aho dori” (stupid bird), a moniker that belies their true nature.

“Albatrosses are very cautious,” Nitta said, noting that they are clever enough to be wary of humans. “They are absolutely not ‘aho.’ “

In an effort to further boost the wild population, Nitta is also creating a new breeding site on Muko Island on the Ogasawara Islands, further south. The team tries to attract the birds by deploying static albatross decoys and playing a recording of their cries.

Last spring, a suspected albatross chick was recorded on a neighboring island in the first sign of their successful nesting in the Ogasawara chain.

Nitta grew up in Azumino, a mountainous area in Nagano Prefecture.

He undertook a significant career change after years serving with Japan National Railways. His interest in climbing led to a job as a park ranger at the ministry, Nitta said. He joined it in 2007.


Rare albatross found breeding in Ogasawara Islands

Mar 27, 2015

The endangered short-tailed albatross is breeding in the Ogasawara Islands south of Tokyo for the first time since the end of the war.

The finding on Nakodo Island, announced Thursday by the Environment Ministry, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, is considered significant for a species that once faced the threat of extinction.

The DNA of a feather from a baby bird found on the island last May has been confirmed to come from a pair of albatrosses on the island.

Previously, the seabird’s breeding areas in Japan had been thought to be confined only to Torishima Island in the Izu chain, also in the Pacific, and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The Ogasawaras used to be a habitat for tens of thousands of the seabirds and a major albatross breeding site, but it disappeared in the 1930s due to overhunting caused by demand for its feathers.

The institute transferred 70 young birds from Torishima Island to Muko Island in the Ogasawara chain from 2008 to 2012 to reintroduce the species. The 6-year-old female of the pair that produced the chick whose feather was tested is one of the birds that was transferred during that period, they said.


You can find more about Operation Decoy at this website.


Eels seeing red?

5 Feb

The good news: Japanese eels have just been placed on the Environment Ministry’s “Red List” of species at risk of extinction.

The bad news: Nothing is legally binding, fishing and trading will be unaffected, and it sounds like another “jobs for the boys” project.

Read on and decide for yourself.

Article from The Japan Times.


Seeing red: Japanese eel have been placed on the Environment Ministry's red list of species deemed at risk of extinction.Seeing red: Japanese eel have been placed on the Environment Ministry’s red list of species deemed at risk of extinction. | KYODO

Ministry officially classifies Japanese eel as species at risk of extinction


FEB 2, 2013


The Environment Ministry on Friday designated the Japanese eel as a species at risk of extinction on its red list of endangered freshwater and brackish water fish, although the move is not legally binding.

“This does not mean people will become unable to eat eels, which are indispensable to Japan’s culinary culture,” Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara told a news conference, explaining the government’s decision is aimed at raising public awareness about the extinction risk. “Relevant government ministries and agencies will go all out to protect eels.”

Although no restrictions will be introduced on the trade and fishing of eel, the government hopes to build momentum for preserving the species by including it on the ministry’s red list.

Eels are highly prized in Japan, especially as a source of energy during the sweltering summer months. But their numbers are running short due to overfishing and the degradation of their natural habitat from various resource development projects.

The annual domestic eel catch has sunk to as low as 200 tons in recent years, down from around 3,000 tons in the 1960s, data compiled by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry show.

Amid the tight supply at home, Japan currently imports about half of the eels it consumes from Taiwan, China and South Korea, among other overseas suppliers.

Meanwhile, the ministry removed the “kunimasu” freshwater salmon from its red list because the species, which was believed to have inhabited only Lake Tazawa in Akita Prefecture, was also found in Lake Saiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, in 2010.

The loach was newly included on the red list due to concern that crossbreeding with foreign species and other factors may drive it to extinction.


Seeing red: Japanese eel have been placed on the Environment Ministry's red list of species deemed at risk of extinction. | KYODO
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