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Search is on to locate, capture Thorn Mouse

Date Posted: 2008-03-13

For more than 30 years, nobody has seen an Okinawa Thorn Mouse, a small rodent native to the prefecture.

Researchers were stunned last week to discover two Okinawa Thorn Mice in one of their traps in Kunigami Village. The mouse had been feared extinct, sending ripples of excitement at the discovery through the scientific community. A Southwest Archipelago Creature Diversity Evaluation Project has been established to track the Okinawa Thorn Mouse.

The project is sanctioned by the World Wildlife Protection Fund Japan, with the mission to capture and inspect endangered species, and chart their numbers. The female mouse and her baby were carefully checked out, to include weight measurements, and skin cell collection for DNA, and photographs. “It’s a great thing we found the mouse, and it looks like they’re breeding by themselves,’ said Fumio Yamada, project team member with the Forest Total Study Institution.

The two mice have now been released back into the forest. The Thorn Mouse was added to the high priority ‘Red List’ of critically endangered species by the Ministry of the Environment in 1998. With an A Class ranking, it symbolized researchers’ belief the Okinawa Thorn Mouse was extinct. Smiling researchers are calling the latest discovery “a miraculous happening.”

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