The Northern Training Area in Okinawa Mongoose Capturing Project Update

June 6, 2007


The Okinawa Prefectural Government and the Ministry of Environment have been implementing the Mongoose Capturing Project to protect rare species such as the Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae) in the northern part of Okinawa, and its Japan Fiscal Year 2006 project was completed at the end of March 2007.

Since the Northern Training Area of the U.S. facilities and areas were also included in its capturing sites, the JFY2006 project was implemented as a result of close cooperation among the Government of Japan and the United States Government.  Through the period ending in March 2007, 106 mongooses were captured in the Northern Training Area.

This project has been implemented smoothly and accomplishes fruitful results by the Okinawa Prefectural Government and Ministry of the Environment under Japan-U.S. cooperation.  Both the governments of Japan and the United States will continue to make maximum efforts to protect endangered species inhabit only in the northern part of Okinawa.

The Mongoose Capturing Project in Northern Training Area was implemented as a result of the approval of the Joint Committee at the request of the Environmental Subcommittee, and the contents of the approved project are as follows;    

  1. The subtropical rain forest in the northern part of Okinawa Island (so called Yambaru area) is ecologically one of the most important areas in Japan, as it is home to rare species such as the Okinawa woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii), the Okinawa rail, and the Yambaru long-armed scarabaeid beetle (Cheirotonus jambar).

    The populations of these species have recently begun to decline and could even come under threat of extinction if conservation efforts are not undertaken.  For the Okinawa rail, the greatest threat is due to predation by invasive alien species such as the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) and feral cats.  According to a recent survey, the Okinawa rail has not been found in areas where mongooses have invaded.
  2. In order to protect rare species, it is necessary to eliminate these mongooses and other invasive predators in areas inhabited by endangered species such as the Okinawa rail.

    For this reason, the Joint Committee, at the request of the Environmental Subcommittee, approved a project to capture mongooses and others in the Northern Training Area in Okinawa, Japan.

    The Okinawa Prefectural Government and Ministry of the Environment with the cooperation from the U.S. Forces, Japan, have successfully carried out the project based on this JC approval.  This effort not only protects the endangered species resident in the Northern Training Area, but also contributes to environmental protection efforts in the entire island of Okinawa.

    If mongooses and others in the Northern Training Area were not eradicated, they would eventually spread throughout the island, threatening a much wider range of local wildlife.  Key to the success of this project was a common understanding between the Government of Japan and the U.S. Government on the importance of protecting endangered species in Okinawa.
  3. Mongoose Capturing Project has been carried out in the Northern Training Area since JFY 2003. The numbers of its capturing are 53 in JFY 2003, 133 in JFY 2004 and 67 in JFY 2005. After seeing these positive results, it was discussed to continue this project in the Northern Training Area through JFY 2006. As a result, the continuation was approved by the Joint Committee on June 29, 2006.
(END)


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