Road accidents involving Yambaru kuina hit record high

February 15, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 14, the Ministry of the Environment’s Naha Nature Conservation Office announced that in 2012 there were 49 road accidents involving the endangered Yambaru kuina or Okinawa Rail, the highest number since recording began in 1995. For the first time this year, on February 7, an accident involving a Yambaru kuina occurred on Prefectural Road 70 in Sosu in the Kunigami district, resulting in the death of the bird. The Office appeals to drivers to slow down for the sake of these birds.

The number of confirmed accidents has been growing since around 2005. Makoto Fukuda, a nature conservation officer with the Yambaru Wildlife Conservation Center said, “Although we do not know the specific cause of this accident, in most cases the birds have wandered out on the road. Growing numbers appear to be unable to easily escape the path of humans or cars.”

In 45 of 47 accidents the birds were killed, and a month by month analysis of the accidents confirmed the highest number of 13 as having occurred in May. Seven accidents occurred in April, and six in February and June. The office calls for drivers to be on the look out for the Yambaru kuina, saying, “The breeding season of the Yambaru kuina comes to a close before spring, so birds are expected to appear near roads.”

At the same time, the number of the road accidents involving the Ryukyu long-haired rat amounted to nine in 2012, decreasing from 25 in 2011. There have already been two this year.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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