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Traffic, predators killing Yambarukuina at record rate

Date Posted: 2007-08-23

Nearly two dozen Yambarukuina, a flightless rail bird native to Okinawa, have been struck by automobiles already this year, and 17 have been killed.

The Yambarukuina is already on the Japanís official Red List of endangered species, and officials say the deaths are higher than at this time a year ago. Officials say traffic encroaching on traditional wildlife habitat is a major factor, and urge drivers to drive slow and be careful in the areas inhabited by the Yambarukuina. Many new roads are being built in the northern jungle areas, increasing risks of encounters and accidents with traffic.

Road signs warning drivers of Yambarukuina presence in the area are posted, and environmentalists encourage drivers to pay extreme caution in these areas. Extra caution is needed at nighttime, because the birdís color is black and difficult to see.

Natural predators are taking their toll on the Yambarukuina. Mongoose populations are spreading in northern Okinawa, as are wild dogs and cats abandoned by owners. All are enemies of the Yambarukuina.

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