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Endangered species

The term "extinction" is used when a species goes out of existence. We can never encounter that species of animal or plant again.
Threatened species are those that may become extinct in the near future if nothing is done to stop their extinction.
Various creatures live in a system of complex relationships with each other. This is called the "ecosystem." Because the ecosystem rests on a delicate balance, the loss of one species may lead to the extinction of another that depended on it and cannot produce offspring without it. While no one knows what degree of influence an extinction will have and what will happen after it, extinction could possibly also affect foodstuffs and valuable resources that could become medicine. We must not forget that human beings are also part of the ecosystem.
Animals that became extinct include the giant moa (in the 15th century), quagga (1883), passenger pigeon (1914), and thylacine (1936). The plants that became extinct include the silphium (around the first century BCE). In short, numerous animal and plant species have already become extinct. In Japan too, the list of extinct species includes animals such as the Japanese wolf (1905), Japanese otter (1979), and Japanese sea lion (1975), and plants such as the Lycopodium cunninghamiodes, Botrychium boreal, and Flemingia strobilifera. About 100 years ago, one species went extinct about every year. Today, in contrast, some 40,000 species reportedly go extinct every year.
The main causes of extinction in recent years are development, environmental pollution, overhunting/poaching, influx of alien (non-native) species, and climate change. Almost all of them are bound up with human activity.
Extinct (EX)
Species for which it is certain that the last surviving individual has died
Extinct in the Wild (EW)
Species that are known to survive only in groups of individuals that are under cultivation or kept in captivity, or are in the wild but clearly outside their past area of distribution
Critically Endangered (CR) Critically Endangered IA
Species thought to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
Endangered (EN) Endangered IB
Species thought to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild
Vulnerable (VU) Threatened II
Species thought to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild
Near Threatened (NT)
Species that it is thought will likely or definitely fall in a Threatened category in the near future
Least Concern (LC)
Species that do not meet the criteria for placement in any Threatened category
Data Deficient (DD)
Species for which there is not enough information for assessment, directly or indirectly, of the risk of extinction

Many of the popular animal and plant species in Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens are threatened species.
One of the criteria for placement in the CR category is a probability of at least 50 percent that the species will become extinct within 10 years or three generations (whichever is longer, with a maximum length of 100 years). The CR category now contains animals such as the western gorilla, Sumatran tiger, and black rhinoceros, and plants such as the Echinocactus grusonii (cactus) and Wollemia nobilis (pine).

One of the criteria for placement in the EN category is a probability of at least 20 percent that the species will become extinct within 20 years or five generations (whichever is longer, with a maximum length of 100 years). The EN category now contains animals such as the Asian elephant, northern rockhopper penguin, and reticulated giraffe, and plants such as the Nepenthes lowii and Zamia furfuracea.

One of the criteria for placement in the VU category is a probability of at least 10 percent that the species will become extinct within the next 100 years. The VU category now contains animals such as the koala, lion, Asian short-clawed otter, and snow leopard, and plants such as the Euphorbia hofstaetteri.

International agreements & conventions

Countries have pledged to take steps to prevent extinction.

◆ Washington Convention
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  • Regulation of international trade in individuals of certain species of wild animals and plants
  • Regulation of international trade in furs, tusks, etc. of certain species of wild animals and in certain species of plants
◆ Biodiversity Convention
Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Preservation of biodiversity
  • Sustainable use of components of biodiversity
  • Fair and equitable distribution of profit from genetic resources
◆ Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat
  • Preservation of wetlands, and animals and plants living in them
  • Proper utilization of wetlands
◆ Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
Strategy for the conservation of plants on a global scale (16 objectives in all)
  • Preparation of a list of known plants
  • Assessment of the conservation status
  • In-situ conservation
  • Control of alien species
  • Education
  • Other items
Domestic laws

There are also domestic agreements.

◆ Endangered Species Act
Act for the Preservation of Endangered Animal and Plant Species
  • Regulation of trade in individuals belonging to endangered animal and plant species
  • Regulation of trade in furs and tusks of endangered animal species, and in endangered plant species
  • Protection of habitats
  • Protection and propagation
◆ Act for the Protection of Cultural Properties
  • Designation of special natural national treasures (Japanese giant salamander, rock ptarmigan, etc.)
  • Designation of natural national treasures (golden eagle, Tsushima leopard cat, Nagoya Castle torreya nucifera, etc.)
  • ◆ Act Concerning Protection of Wildlife and Game
    • Protection and control of birds and mammals, and management of hunting
    • Assurance of biological diversity
    ◆ Invasive Alien Species Act
    Act Concerning the Prevention of Damage to the Ecosystem etc. by Invasive Alien Species
    • Prevention of damage to the ecosystem, human health, and agriculture, forestry, and fisheries due to invasive alien species
    • Assurance of biological diversity
    ◆ Nature Conservation Act
    Act for Protection of the Natural Environment
    • Assurance of biological diversity and proper conservation of the natural environment in other ways
    Of the 469 animal species in the zoo, 122 are threatened species.
    Of the 6,754 plant species in the botanical gardens, 126 are threatened species.
    (as of December 2019)
    (1) Ministry of the Environment project for protection and propagation
    ◆ Tsushima leopard cat
    • FY2011: Introduction of one Tsushima leopard cat
    • FY2014: Preparation of a propagation facility
    • FY2015: Introduction of three Tsushima leopard cats
    • FY2016: First case of propagation in May (death shortly after birth)
    ◆ Itasenpara bitterling
    • FY2011: Introduction
    • FY2013: First case of propagation
    (2) Partnership agreement concerning protection of rare wild animal and plant species
    Designation by Aichi Prefectural Government of seven animal species and four plant species as designated rare wild species, in accordance with an ordinance. Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens and Aichi Prefectural Government have concluded a partnership agreement and are taking action for ex-situ conservation of animal and plant species living in Aichi Prefecture.
    (3) Ricefish propagation project
    Passage (subculture) propagation of a strain (Nagoya ricefish) taken at Heiwa Park 80 years ago
    The Japanese ricefish is on the brink of extinction because of water quality deterioration due to agricultural chemicals and domestic wastewater, changes in methods of rice paddy management, infiltration of alien species, and other factors.
    (4) Discovery of a new species of ricefish
    Discovery of the Tiu ricefish (Oryzias soerotoi) in Lake Tiu, Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2014.
    Discovery of the Doping-doping ricefish in the Doping-doping River, Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2018
    (5) Participation in the Ogasawara mulberry foster parent program
    The Ogasawara mulberry is a threatened tree species of the Morus genus that grows only in the Ogasawara Islands. Acting as foster parents, we are accepting saplings of it as part of a program for dispersed preservation, and are striving to preserve the species.
    An actual-size replica (about three meters in height) of the giant moa is permanently displayed in the Animal Pavilion. This replica was originally displayed at the Extinct Animal Laboratory exhibition held at the Nagoya City Science Museum in 2019. The giant moa was a huge bird that used to live in New Zealand. It reportedly became extinct in the 15th century due to overhunting.
    One of the themes related to the animals in the American Continent Corner of the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the story of animals that were saved from the brink of extinction. People can sometimes save threatened species by changing their awareness and behavior.
    With the assistance of a donation by the UFJ Environment Foundation, the Tokai Flora Preservation Garden was built over the four-year period of 2002 - 2005. The flora that are being preserved are species indigenous to the Tokai region, including trees growing in spring-fed wetlands (e.g., Magnolia stellata, Pyrus calleryana, Chionanthus retusus, Acer pycnanthum, and Alnus trabeculosa) and herbs (e.g., Eulalia speciosa, Cymbidium goeringii, Heloniopsis orientalis, Asarum takaoi, and Typha domingensis). Almost all of these species have been designated as threatened or near threatened species.
    The forest fires during droughts that occurred in Australia beginning in September 2019 did harm to many animals, including koalas, platypuses, wallabies, short-beaked echidnae, bats, and frogs, into the next year. From January 24 to March 31, 2020, the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens solicited donations from visitors to assist Australia's Taronga Zoo, which is also one of its sister zoos, in its efforts to rescue animals. As a result, it donated a total of 8,341,880 yen to the foundation established by the Taronga Zoo.

    Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens make posters to raise awareness of threatened species.

    • Think about ways to reduce rubbish, and save electricity and water.
    • Think about how food that is still edible ends up being thrown away.
    • Think about the effects of keeping rare wild animals as pets.
    • Think about invasive alien species.
    • Think about assisting activities to protect animals and plants, and buying environmentally friendly products.
    • First, go to see animals and plants to realize how many different kinds of creatures inhabit our earth.
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