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Okinawa’s native bird moving to extinction?

Date Posted: 2004-12-09

Okinawa’s pride and joy is its very own bird, the Yambarukuina.

The flightless bird is disappearing, with five more bodies being discovered in recent weeks by the Ministry of the Environment. It brings to 15 the total number of the rare birds that normally live in northern Okinawa’s forests that have been found dead this year.

“Yambarukuina has almost gone,” says an environmentalist at the Wildlife Protection Center in Nago. “We’ve just published our planning guide and we’re going to do more to create an artificial home for the birds.”

The Protection Center staff says “it looks like crows and wild cats are attacking this bird. Last June there was one bird brought in, but unfortunately it was dead. The other bodies indicate they suffered heavy injuries from wild cats attacking.”

Another staff member says “Usually Yambarukiuina don’t come out of the forest, but recently tourists and others have visited the forest and left foods. The birds are becoming accustomed to eating those foods and go searching for more. Humans must clean up after themselves in the forest, and not leave any foods or trash.” The worker says the birds, once out of the safety of the forest, are subject to attack by prey.

“We need to protect the Yambarukuina, and we need to protect the forest,” another worker emphasized. “The crows are increasing too, as much because of all the human foods and easy-to-find foods from trash. People must change their approach to cleaning up the forest.”

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