High School students work to save the Ryukyu-inu breed of dogs from going extinct
April 6, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Yo Kakazu
Five second year students from Chubu Norin High School, including Yuto Kamejima, 16, are taking on the challenge of preserving pure-bred “Ryukyu-inu” dogs, which are native to Okinawa, beginning in April. Due to the difficulties of breeding, the preservation society had almost ceased activity altogether, putting the continued existence of Ryukyu-inu dogs in danger. Says Kamejima, “I do not want pure-bred Ryukyu-inu to go extinct. I am uncertain about how much I can help, but I will do everything that I can.”
A preservation society to prevent the extinction of Ryukyu-ken, which are designated as a protected species by the Okinawan government, was established in 1990, however due to the difficulties of breeding and the large individual burden members have decreased, and currently activity at the society has almost entirely ceased. A pedigree has not been issued for almost 13 years.
From October, 2016, Kamejima has been taking care of a Ryukyu-inu named Shoto. Shoto had been adopted from the preservation society earlier that year by Kamejima’s upperclassmen. After watching his upperclassmen study the characteristics and current state of Ryukyu-inu, an interest in the species was awakened in Kamejima who will work with a number of other Chubu Norin High School students who volunteered to help preserve pure-bred Ryukyu-inu: Ririka Okuma,16, Yuka Ikehara, 16, Yuki Hiyane, 16, and Kaede Arakawa, 16.
Kamejima was tasked with caring for Shoto at the recommendation of their upperclassmen. At first, the free-wheeling Shoto was rarely calm and hardly ever followed commands, making him a handful. After a lot of training however, Kamejima finally broke through, “I feel that recently we can finally relate to one another,” he said while patting the head of Shoto, who sat at Kamejima’s feet.
From now, in order to find a pure-bred mate, the five students are going to start a, “bride search” for Shoto. If they are successful in finding a mate for Shoto, the students plan on handing him over to someone who can help increase the number of pure-bred Ryukyu-inu dogs.
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)
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