Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Endangered Species on US Military Base in Okinawa

Torii Station home to protected birds

by: John The Intern | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: July 12, 2016
Torii Station is not just the Army’s home on Okinawa, it is also home to two types of threatened local birds.
U.S. Army Garrison- Okinawa is doing its part in protecting these birds, by putting up barriers around their nesting sites, and warning people to steer clear of their nests.
“It's important to do what we can to protect them, because diversity is one way that we ensure a healthy, balanced planet,” said Environmental Division Chief, Brandy Hawley. These two migratory species, the Little Tern and the Kentish
Plover, have seen a decrease in population recently, making the need to protect their habitat more important than ever.
The Little Tern has recently been added to the Japan Environmental Governing Standards Threatened and Endangered Species list. The JEGS lays out clearly which species are threatened and endangered and states that those species are to be protected.
Protecting these birds is important for the Garrison and for the environment as a whole. “I would say, as with anything, just be aware that with Torii Beach or Naha Port that we do have these species there, so I’d look where you’re walking, and if you are driving in those areas, try to go slow and just don’t disturb the birds,” said Hawley.
The Kentish Plover was previously a least concern species, however now, they are listed as vulnerable in the Japan Red List. The Kentish Plover is also listed as near threatened within the Okinawa Red Dot Book. These two publications
are national, and prefectural lists respectively, which cover conservation status for both flora and fauna.
The Little Terns and Kentish Plovers have a short breeding period from the beginning of April until the end of July. “We saw it in April, we had two [Kentish Plover nests], now we have two more,” said Natural Resource Program Manager, Tomoko Ikema. The Little Terns have seven nests at Naha Military Port alongside the nests of Kentish Plovers, she said.
The Little Tern is a ground-nesting species “which is a problem in and of itself, because their nests are actually on the ground and not protected high up in a tree [so] there’s more instances for people to just tread over them if they’re not paying attention,” said Hawley. The Little Terns’ eggs take three to four weeks to hatch and equally long for their chicks to fledge.
These birds are more territorial when looking after their nests then the Kentish Plover and will make themselves known when their nests are approached. The Little Tern will become aggressive and may even try to defecate on unknowing persons who wander too close.
The Kentish Plover are small birds, 15-17 centimeters in length, and are also a ground-nesting species. Kentish Plovers can be found at both Torii Beach as well as Naha Military Port. These birds are generally considered to be migratory.
However, each year the birds continue call Torii Station home.

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