Events to mark the 50th anniversary of Iriomote cat’s discovery
April 16, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
Taketomi Municipal Office will hold events to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Iriomote cat. The animal is a subspecies of the leopard and is only found on Iriomote Island, which is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands and the second largest island in Okinawa Prefecture. The cats have been designated a protected species by the national government.
On April 15, the municipal office set up an executive committee for the 50th anniversary to help the cats coexist with residents. The committee plans to hold events, including symposiums and concerts, to highlight the need to preserve the natural environment and to protect the endangered animal’s habitat.
Taketomo Mayor Eicho Kawamitsu, the chairperson of the committee, said, “Iriomote cats are our treasure, and we need to protect them for the future. We want to let people inside and outside the island know that this community will develop by living together with the wild cat.”
Taketomi Town plans to publish a joint declaration with Tsushima City, Nagasaki, which is home to another breed of wildcats. The declaration will be published in October and will call for the protection of all wildcats.
Also, an Iriomote cat drawing contest will be held for elementary and junior high school students in Taketomi.
The executive committee consists of Taketomi Municipal Office, the Ministry of the Environment’s Naha Natural Environmental Office, NPO Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund, Taketomi Town Tourist Association, Japan Transocean Air, and the Ryukyu Shimpo.
(English translation by T&CT, Hitomi Shinzato)
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