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Prefecture declares war on mongoose menace

Date Posted: 2002-08-23

Okinawa Prefecture officials have declared an all-out war on mongoose that are threatening local wildlife including endangered bird species Yambarukuina and Noguchigera.

Previously, officials at the Prefecture Nature Preservation Section had assumed that the mongoose was found in significant numbers only in the southern parts of the island. The rare species that live mainly in the jungles and forests of the north were through to be relatively safe.

However, officials changed their mind after they set traps along the line between Shioya and Taira areas that was thought to mark the northernmost line for mongooses to live. Officials set their traps in April and caught 13 mongooses in that month. In May the number climbed to 50, and rose to 65 in June. More mongooses were caught in Ogimi Village well north of the Shioya - Taira line, prompting officials to conclude that mongooses were spread throughout the island.

By now they have set traps in all areas of Okinawa Main Island totaling some 600, resulting in the capture of 160 mongooses. In addition the traps caught 177 rats, 40 cats, and 46 land crabs. There were even two Yambarukuinas that were promptly released back to the wild.

Mongoose is not a native Okinawan species but was imported here about 100 years ago from India to control venomous habu snakes. But since they have no natural enemies here, they have now spread through the island threatening indigenous wild animals.

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