Crested ibises have been released into the wild today on Sado Island, marking the return of the birds to Japan's skies for the first time in 27 years. Prince and Princess Akishino joined local residents on Thursday to free the birds who slowly flew over a rice paddy area on the island in the Sea of Japan. The 10 crested ibises (5 male and 5 female) were bred at the conservation center on the island from birds sent from central China.
Japanese crested ibises used to be seen across Japan, according to NHK World:
They became extinct as agricultural chemicals destroyed their food sources. They disappeared from the wild in 1981, when the last 5 were captured for breeding on Sado Island. Residents of Sado have been working to make a friendly environment for the ibises, such as by creating ponds where the birds can catch fish and insects.
(Photo from AP Photo by Niigata Prefectural Government)
Chinese President Wen Jiabao announced the gift of several crested ibises to Japan in 2007. It is heart-warming to see countries working together for such a good cause! At one time, the Crested Ibis was widespread in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. It has now disappeared from most of its former range. The last wild Japanese crested Ibis (photo) died in October 2003, while the remaining world population can be found only in Shaanxi province in central China.
The crested ibis
flies beyond the turtle's sight:
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