Thursday, March 1, 2007

Endangered Birds

How many species of birds are there in Japan? There are approximately 680 species, including subspecies, on the "List of Japanese Birds" presented by the Ornithological Society of Japan in 1997 (including extinct species and excluding non-Japanese species). However this list is still provisional. As some species still under research, and some subspecies still unknown can be added to this list, the total number of species on the list may increase slightly in the future.
By accessing the home page of the Environment Agency, you can find the Red List of Japanese birds. As you can see from the list below, there are 135 species on this list. In fact, approximately 20% of birds in Japan have been acknowledged as endangered species.
There are various causes that have led birds on this list either to extinction or to an endangered state. However the main problem can be traced to humans. For example, we have caught birds on a massive scale for food or for their feathers, and animals we have introduced from other lands such as mice, pigs, dogs, cats, and weasels have also caught them. We have greatly upset the ecosystem to which these birds had adapted themselves. Disappearance of breeding and wintering grounds and transit points for migration caused by cultivation, massive logging, and reclamation of tidelands and wetlands are also considered major causes that have contributed to the present situation.

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