“National treasure” hit by cars beyond designated risk-zone

“National treasure” hit by cars beyond designated risk-zone

Locations of traffic accidents involving Okinawan rails in 2014


May 21, 2014 Ryota Uehara of Ryukyu Shimpo

Seven Okinawan rails were hit and killed by cars in non-risk zones this month. The number is more than the total killed from January to April. While most accidents occur in areas where rails are known to roam and signage warns drivers to look out for them, all the accidents in May happened in non-risk areas.

A nature ranger at the Center Ichihito Yamamoto said, “There is a possibility the habitat density of Okinawan rails is increasing.”

From January to April, six accidents occurred, with one bird surviving, according to the Ministry of the Environment’s Yambaru Wildlife Conservation Center. In May, there were seven accidents, with no bird surviving. Of these accidents, not one occurred in the areas marked for accident prevention.

Route 70 and Route 2 on the east coast, and in the mountain area of Kunigami Village, are designated as part of a zone where accidents are most likely to happen. There are warning signs in an area covering 1.8 kilometers on route 70, in Sosu, Kunigami, where many accidents have occurred in recent years. However, this year, there have been no cases at this zone. Instead, accidents happened in the districts of Hiji and Aha, which are bordering on Ogimi Village and Higashi Village respectively.

Kunigami, Higashi, and Ogimi villages, and various national conservation bodies recently discussed setting up more warning signs at a “Yanbaru Road Kill Prevention Liaison Conference” held in April.

Accidents during the breeding season from April to June often leave baby birds stranded without a mother, leading to their starvation.

Yamamoto said, “We would like to avoid any accidents this season. People need to be aware that Okinawan rails inhabit Ogimi and Higashi. ”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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