China and Japan Trade Birds: Not as Boring as it Sounds!
In 1981 a program was started to bring the avian species, the Japanese crested ibis, back from near extinction. After the last known crested ibis of Japan died in captivity China offered to help with the repopulation effort with....
GENETIC ENGINEERING! In order to make a super-intelligent, combatant bird, capable of fighting crime.Ahem.
But if you are unwilling to believe that piece of fiction, there is a very true story behind the reemergence of a species as fostered by two compassionate nations.
Let's move ahead to 1999. Japanese environmentalists and Chinese ambassadors are meeting on Sado island to discuss the repop of the species. China is able to offer one pair, a male and female, to breed in captivity in Japan. Yu Yu and Mei Mei, the first pair mate and produce several offspring.
Today, the animals are flourishing nicely and the mortality rate has decreased as well. One of the most recent clutches hatched five eggs in a season.
Unfortunately, when the birds were initially given to Japan, early bird flu epedemic problems began occuring in China and the bird trade, as well as the project was suspended. This was becoming an ever increasing problem as many of the birds were starting to have some close genetic ties.
With much of the bird flu scare subsiding now, China wishes to offer new birds to the conservancy effort. They have announced that as soon as October, they would like to send another two birds in exchange for one of the earlier pairs.
While the species is repopulating, they are not yet removed from the endangered list, but have, since about 1981, been removed from the extinct list, since the last of the species was thought to have been spotted no later than the 1960s. Before that, the numbers of this animal were dwindling mostly because of over hunting of the bird, especially during the Meji era.
To find out more about the species go to the threatened species list.
To find out more about the crested ibis trade, go to the recent article in the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Interesting fact: this species' scientific name is the Nipponia nippon.
Of course, that name isn't quite correct since these birds are from China now. So what would that make them? Hmm...
Also, don't forget about Kami's (BoxBox) genealogy project. Click the link to visit his post in the community blog.