Nighttime traffic restriction to start for Kunigami forest road
Kunigami Village is preparing to restrict motor vehicle traffic through a woodland road in the Yanbaru forest from sunset through sunrise starting Sep. 1st. The aim of the traffic control measure is to protect endangered animals of the Yanbaru forest before Sep. 15th when Kunigami, Higashi, and Ogimi Villages become a national park.
According to Kunigami Village Office, about 40 cars per night were observed entering the woodland road per night in September 2015. Officials say that people in these cars were there to catch rare insects like Neolucanus Okinawanus Sakaino, a beetle species.
This year, the Ministry of Environment declared the Ryukyu long-haired rat (Diplotrix legata) and Neolucanus Okinawanus Sakaino as national endangered species, which are prohibited to capture or transfer. They also intend to prevent other rare species, such as Anderson’s crocodile newt (Echinotriton andersonis), Ryukyu leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonicas), and frogs from being killed by cars.
Signs for the traffic restriction during nights will be placed at the entrance of the woodland road, and the restriction will be enforced by patrols.
Kenji Agarie, the chief of the office for World Heritage Site in Kunigami Village, says that permission will be required to enter the woodland in Kunigami from now on. He says he hopes the public kindly understands the need to protect the wilderness and animals living there.