Kumejima Firefly designated as critically endangered species

Kumejima Firefly designated as critically endangered species

Samples of Ryukyu kawazansho snail that lived in Nago preserved in the National Museum of Nature and Science (provided by Hiroshi Fukuda).

September 1, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 28, the Ministry of Environment reported that the Kumejima firefly, which is an endangered and prefectural protected species, has been designated as critically endangered on its revised Red List of Threatened Species. The Miyako kikugashira komori (a small bat, rhinolophus pumilus miyakonis) in the mammal class, the buzzard (buteo buteo oshiroi) in the bird class, and Ryukyu kawazansho (a snail, assiminea sp. D), have been newly designated as extinct.

In the revised Red List, the provisional number of endangered species is now approximately 160, including the Kumejima firefly, and the number of vulnerable species is currently about 180, with the black-naped tern (sterna sumatrana) being added to the list.

Among the eight newly designated extinct species, three existed in Okinawa.

The Natural Conservation Division of Okinawa said, “It is sad that extinct species have been added. Through public lectures, we would like to let people know about the critically endangered species in Okinawa. In 2015 or 2016, we want to publish the revised Red Data Okinawa and request that residents and companies cooperate to limit development of the natural environment.”

In the 1971 survey, ten Miyako kikugashira komori were confirmed as existing, but they were not found in the four surveys held between 1977 in 1996. The buzzard has not been seen since two were confirmed as existing on Kita Daito Island in 1972.

The Ryukyu kawazansho lived on the main island of Okinawa and Yonaguni Island and samples have been collected, but it has not been confirmed that they still exist. Hiroshi Fukuda, a malacologist and associate professor at University of Okayama, said, “They used to be found in places where seawater and fresh water are mixed, such as on Yonaguni Island, in the Naha and Nago areas. They seem to be extinct because of landfill, revetment maintenance, and polluted water drains.”

Fumiyasu Sato from the Kumejima Firefly Museum expressed his concern about the designation of the Kumejima firefly as a critically endangered species. He said, “The firefly can coexist with people. Decreasing numbers of fireflies reflect a crisis in the living environment. This serves as a warning for residents.”

(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)

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