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Northern village wants more birds and fewer mongoose

Date Posted: 2006-01-24

Kunigami Village wants to eradicate the mongoose population and begin breeding a special island bird.

The challenge by Kunigami Village residents is to wipe out, or drastically reduce, the predator mongoose population within five years in order to begin breeding 200 pairs of yambaru kuina, a bird indigenous to Okinawa. Residents are planning a special breeding ground where they’ll raise the birds within the village.

Yambaru Kuina are dying at a rapid clip, victims of car accidents and mongoose who eat the birds. Snakes and cats are also predators, stealing and eating the bird eggs.

An International Conference on the Yambaru Kuina was conducted in Kunigami Village’s Yasuda Community Hall last week, discussing ways to protect the fragile Okinawa birds. Their strongest solution was to have humans breed the birds to give mother nature a helping hand. Villagers concede they’ve a lot to learn first about breeding, but they want to save the bird. They’ll ask the International Natural Environment Preservation Union for assistance.

Mongoose are the leading cause of yambaru kuina deaths, and the mongoose are increasing in numbers. The mongoose population is also spreading across the northern mountain region. The Prefecture has mounted a campaign to rid the island of the pesky mongoose, but has not yet been successful.

Veterinarian Takashi Nagamine, who’s the leader of the non-profit Yombaru Kuina Protection Foundation, says “the extinction of birds is coming soon if nothing is done now. We have to do something. Humans must help out.” Nagamine says humans must breed the birds, quickly, “otherwise we won’t see the birds anymore.”

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