Yanbarukuina under attack by wild dogs

A research by the Ministry of Environment Yanbaru Wildlife Conservation Center concluded that the number of Yanbarukuina, a.k.a. Okinawa rail, in Sosu, Kunigami Village, has declined from 275 in 2013 to only 29 last year. The center counts the number of the birds by listening to their call cries.

Experts at the center say the main reason for the decline is wild dogs that roam the area. There have been many reports that in addition to Yambarukuina, wild dogs around Sosu have killed other rare and endangered animals seriously affecting the ecosystem.

Another threat to Yambarukuina is traffic accidents, and many Yambarukuina fell victim to traffic on prefectural road 70 in the past, but the number of such accidents has dropped since a specific 3.8km section of the road was designated as a special protection area.

According to Takashi Nagamine, the chairman of the NPO Conservation and Animal Welfare, “The number of Yanbarukuina increased after a campaign to exterminate mongooses and cats in the area, but they are now endangered again because of the wild dogs.” The dogs have also killed Ryukyu long-haired rats and Okinawa spinous country-rats.

Ichihito Yamamoto, a wildlife protection officer at the Conservation Center, says, “Wild dogs have been increasing for several years. It is imperative that we act now.”

The number of Yanbarukuina in the entire northern part of Okinawa Main Island is estimated to have declined from 1,720 in 2015 to 1,370 in 2016. The number is estimated by playing recorded cries of the birds and counting the replies from other Yanbarukuina.