Monkey Business In Japan

Whoever said that Tokyo - the world's largest megalopolis, with over 35 million people living in the Greater Tokyo Area - didn't have any nature?

I know of at least one cheeky monkey that would beg to disagree.


Image courtesy of Pink Tentacle

This little fella, properly known as a Japanese macaque, has been making waves in national and international media with his impromptu appearance at Shibuya Station in Tokyo.

Shibuya is the world's third busiest train station, with over 2.5 million passengers passing through the station daily, and consequently his presence didn't go unnoticed for long. The macaque was spotted yesterday morning at around 9:45 am monkeying around near the Tokyu Toyoko line ticket gates and a squad of police officers was sent to round up the offender.

However, the wily monkey was too smart for a bunch of mere humans and he made good his escape while entertaining the crowd.

Watch the daring escape courtesy of NNN (via Pink Tentacle).

Now, we here at TreeHugger don't condone this kind of monkey business, and more specifically we think there may have been a better way to capture the poor, terrified monkey, but it does warm the heart to know that there are still some wild (we presume) animals left in The Big City.

The Japanese Macaque, also known as the Snow Monkey and the most northern-living non-human primate, does not seem to be at risk of immediate extinction, unlike the only-recently-discovered Kipunji (as brought to you by TreeHugger in July), and the Orangutan, which could be the first great ape to become extinct.

Unfortunately, monkeys and apes are not the only living creatures threatened by man's ever-escalating assault on the natural environment. The 2007 IUCN Red List says:

There are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List and 16,306 of them are threatened with extinction, up from 16,118 last year. The total number of extinct species has reached 785 and a further 65 are only found in captivity or in cultivation.

One in four mammals, one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70% of the world’s assessed plants on the 2007 IUCN Red List are in jeopardy.

A reassessment of our closest relatives, the great apes, has revealed a grim picture. The Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered, after the discovery that the main subspecies, the Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), has been decimated by the commercial bushmeat trade and the Ebola virus. Their population has declined by more than 60% over the last 20-25 years, with about one third of the total population found in protected areas killed by the Ebola virus over the last 15 years.

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) remains in the Critically Endangered category and the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) in the Endangered category. Both are threatened by habitat loss due to illegal and legal logging and forest clearance for palm oil plantations. In Borneo, the area planted with oil palms increased from 2,000 km2 to 27,000 km2 between 1984 and 2003, leaving just 86,000 km2 of habitat available to the species throughout the island.

So, putting all the monkey jokes aside, let's not forget that we are in the middle of an extinction crisis the likes of which has been seen since the dinosaurs, and we all know what happened to them.

And we'll all be monkey's uncles if we just stand by and let it happen.

(Brought to you by Luke Poliszcuk for Greenz.jp)

Primates, Extinction, Deforestation Links

(Thanks to Matthew McDermott)

To help IUCN in its fight against the extinction crisis, you can donate on their website.
Newly Discovered Monkey Already Threatened With Extinction

Brazil to Develop Satellite to Monitor Deforestation Urban Expansion

Spending One Billion Dollars Could Slow Tropical Deforestation by One-Tenth, Reduce Carbon Emissions by Half a Billion Tonnes Annually

Flawed Methods Seriously Underestimate Projected Extinction Rates...A Hundred-Fold

Orangutan Could Be First Great Ape to Become Extinct

Tags: Animals | Biodiversity | Ecology | Endangered Species | Extinction | Japan | Tokyo

Best of TreeHugger