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Poisonous toads pose threat to Iriomote Wildcat

Date Posted: 2001-05-08

Researchers at the Ministry of Environment announced Monday that poisonous marine toads pose an immediate threat to the rare Iriomote Wildcat. Iriomote Island is the only habitat for the rare cat and only about 100 is estimated to survive in the islandís jungles.

Eight such toads have been captured on the island since December. The toads are said to be very fertile, about 15 cm long, and native to South America. They were introduced to neighboring Ishigaki Island in the late 1970s in an attempt to exterminate gold beetles that were destroying the islandís sugar cane crops. Officials speculated the toads might have migrated to Iriomote from Ishigaki on a ship. Experts say that the toadsí poison is strong enough to blind a human, and mammals, and mammals can die if they eat them.

The ministry's wildlife protection center is reportedly preparing plans to exterminate the poisonous toads with cooperation from local residents.

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