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Endangered bird gains protectors in Nago area

Date Posted: 2005-02-11

Okinawa’s bird is the Yanbaru Kuina.

The bird, which cannot fly, lives only in northern Okinawa. Now, veterinarians are banding together to protect the Yanbaru Kuina, which is quickly becoming an endangered species.

The animal doctors are afraid for the flightless bird, lest it go the way of a fellow endangered species. The Ibis went from troubled to endangered, and then to extinction. “We don’t want to lose like the Ibis bird,” one veterinarian says. “Let’s scoop the Yanbaru Kuina up and save them.”

The veterinarians group is now creating an emergency center in Kunigami Village in the Yasuda area. The building was donated by a Yasuda area resident. The doctors have pledged their services on a volunteer basis. Now under construction and building modification, the new Center hopes to save the national treasures by removing them from predator situations.

The Yanbaru Kuina is a gangly bird easily falling within the clutches of mongoose and wild cats. The birds often wander onto highways and are killed by cars.

To date there’s been no emergency hospital in Kumigami Village to treat the birds. Most often, injured birds die during transfer to veterinary hospitals in Nago City.

“We have to scoop up the birds now,” an enthusiastic veterinarian volunteer exclaims. “This vet emergency center will be the key.” He notes the local villagers love the birds and are encouraging efforts to save them.

The new Yanbaru Kuina Center was formerly a village kindergarten. The villagers felt saving the bird was essential, and made the transition happen. They’ve raised more than ¥2,000,000 for refrigerators, air conditioners and specialized equipment. The Center is slated to open in March. Veterinarians Group Chiarman Takashi Nagamine says “we’re standing just starting up, but our target is to protect the birds’ lives, and to aid in breeding them in the future.”

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