Seventy-four Okinawa Rails have walked through their “pedestrian crossing tunnel” in Kunigami

Seventy-four Okinawa Rails have walked through their “pedestrian crossing tunnel” in Kunigami

On July 4, at Oku in Kunigami, a young Okinawa rail passed through a Kuina-tunnel. (Photograph provided by the National Highway Office of the Northern Region of Okinawa.)


September 21, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

Bird crossing tunnels have been set up under Route 58 in Kunigami to protect the endangered Yambaru-kuina, or Okinawa rail, from being hit by cars. Some chicks are confirmed to have passed through the tunnels. Groups and organizations have been working to save the rails. One group took care of a rail that was hit by a car in August and recently released the bird after it recovered. Those involved in the groups urge drivers to be more careful about the birds.

On September 20, the National Highway Office of the Northern Region of Okinawa (NHONO) released results of research into the use by small animals of the special tunnels under Route 58 in Kunigami. Research carried out from May 21 to August 31 revealed that 74 adult rails and, for the first time, that some chicks had used the tunnels.

In 2007 the NHONO put up five fences in Kunigami to prevent Okinawa rails from getting on the national highway. Then in 2010, they created what are called Kuina-tunnels under the fences on a trial basis and have used surveillance cameras to monitor the movement of the birds.

Rail chicks passed through the tunnels three times during the survey, and in June and August, a rail family was filmed in front of the tunnels.
After the tunnels were set up, in 2010, there were accidents in which rails were killed on Route 58. In 2011 were none, but this year three rails were involved in such accidents.

A staff member of the NHONO commented, “We will take measures to protect the Yambaru-kuina based on past experience and consulting with experts.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)
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