All posts tagged: okinawa rail

Yanbaru Wildlife

Spent the day up in the Yanbaru region of northern Okinawa with wildlife photographer Mark Thorpe. Found a few interesting critters including mayflies and tiger beetles, both of which required a little patience before they’d stop for a pic. We then met up with wildlife artist Ichiro Kikuta to get some advice on the best place to find the endemic Yanbaru kuina. He advised us to head out at dusk to a small river where the birds would bathe each evening. We staked out the spot, and  just as the sun dipped below the horizon, a family of Yanbaru kuina came down to bathe. Splish, splash, taking a bath.

Protecting the Okinawa Rail

The Okinawa Rail ( Gallirallus okinawae ) know locally as the Yanbaru Kuina is a small flightless bird that is endemic to the forests of northern Okinawa. There are less than a thousand birds remaining on Okinawa, and numerous factors both natural and manmade are keeping the population small. Various animals kill  the birds including jungle crows, mongooses and cats. The crows are a natural part of the forest ecosystem, but mongooses were introduced to try and control the habu snake population, and feral cats are discarded strays and their progeny. Signs are now posted telling people not to discard their unwanted pets, and for several years there has been a program to try and eradicate the mongoose from the northern part of the island. Another common killer of the Okinawa Rail is motor vehicles. The local government has tried to reduce the frequency of accidents by posting warning signs for motorists informing them to slow down, phone numbers if you should find (or be the cause of) an injured bird, and mini exit ramps …