Meet Your Neighbours project – Okinawa, Japan

Founded in 2009, Meet Your Neighbours is a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. The project is dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps and enriching their lives in the process. These creatures and plants are vital to people: they represent the first, and for some, the only contact with wild nature we have. Yet too often they are overlooked, undervalued.

There are seventy-five worldwide contributors to this powerful project. I am currently  the Japan contributor to this project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.  Below are some of my favorite images.

12051921826_3aafff45a9_b

Okinawan green tree frog

11695001605_f32e144de8_b

Percnon planissimum – crab

Cherry blossom  -Mt Yaedake

Cherry blossom -Mt Yaedake

Crabs with beach trash homes

Crabs with beach trash homes

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko -MYN

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Scopimera ryukyuensis - Ryukyu Islands

Scopimera ryukyuensis – Ryukyu Islands

17022692518_99dd5e7837_b

Fern – Ryukyu Islands

 

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

American bullfrog - Izena Island

American bullfrog – Izena Island

Chinese cowrie

Chinese cowrie

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan mud lobster

Okinawan mud lobster

Sesarmops intermedius

Sesarmops intermedius

Air breathing marine slug

Air breathing marine slug

Unidentified earthworm -  MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Unidentified earthworm – MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Geograpsus grayi

Geograpsus grayi

Anderson's crocodile newt

Anderson’s crocodile newt

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Have a great day !

Invasive species of Okinawa

Invasive species are introduced animals, plants and fungus that cause damage to the natural environment. Non-native species have a tendency of dominating the habitat and eventually wiping out native wildlife.  They have been deliberately or accidentally introduced and generally do more harm than good.

The mongoose was introduced to Okinawa in 1910 in attempt to control the population of venomous snakes. The problem is the habu snake is nocturnal and the mongoose is diurnal, so they rarely meet.

Mongoose ( Hepestes javanicus )

Mongoose ( Hepestes javanicus ) -Nagahama, Okinawa

The pheasant was introduced in the 1900′s as a food source. The bird is also know to feed on small snakes and insects that feed on local crops.

Common Pheasant

Common Pheasant – Yomitan, Okinawa

The Red eared turtle was Introduced in the the 1960′s.  Pet owners generally release these turtles when they get too big.

Red-eared slider

Red-eared slider -Nagahama, Okinawa

The White jawed frog was introduced in the the 1960′s. It was brought in by the pet trade or hitchhiking on shipping supplies.

White lipped tree frog

White lipped tree frog – Ie Island

The Taiwanese habu was introduced in the 1970s for zoo exibitions and medicine.  They are fairly common in Onna village.

Taiwanes habu- Onna village

Taiwanes habu- Onna village

The Apple snail was introduced as a food source in the 1980s.  They are commonly found in rice fields. It’s not recommended to handle or eat these snails raw. They sometimes carry parasites that cause disease.

Apple snail

Apple snail -Kunigami, Okinawa

Feral cats are master hunters. They are responsible for killing native species such as birds, lizards and mice.  Some countries have implemented programs to reduce the killing of wildlife. If you own a cat that spends it time outdoors, it is recommended to place a brightly colored collar with a bell on it.  This warns the native wildlife and gives them a chance to escape.

Feral cats

Feral cats – Kin, Okinawa

The american bullfrog was introduced in 1918 as a food source. Bullfrogs eat anything they can fit into their mouth. They are larger and overpower the native frogs of the Ryukyu Islands.

14521393808_203b2510f9_b

American bullfrog – Izena Island

The Giant African snail was Introduced as a food source in the 1930′s . It’s not recommended to handle or eat these snails raw. They sometimes  carry parasites that cause disease.

Giant African snail

Giant African snail -Kin, Okinawa

The Coconut rhinoceros was introduced with the importation of palm trees.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Coconut rhinoceros beetle

The Snapping turtle was introduced by pet owners. They buy them when they are very small and fail to realize they can live for over forty years.

Snapping turtle

Snapping turtle – introduced to okinawa

The Taiwanese beauty snake was introduced in the 1970s for zoo exhibitions.

Taiwanese beauty snake

Taiwanese beauty snake – Yomitan, Okinawa

The Brown rat was possibly introduced by lumber transportation ships.

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) -Yomitan, Okinawa

Talapia were brought to the Ryukyu islands in the 1960s as a food source. They eat the eggs of amphibians and compete with native fish.

Tiliapia introduced food source

Tiliapia introduced food source – Itoman, Okinawa

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

The hunt for the habu – Izena Island

Izena Island is known for not having any venomous snakes on the Island. I always thought this was impossible since the surrounding islands all have venomous snakes. After five trips we finally found a Habu.

The Princess habu was found resting on a rock above a fresh water source.

The princess habu -

The Princess habu – Photo by David Orr

img_0250

Hime habu – Izena Island

Hime habu  - Izena Island

Hime habu – Izena Island

Hime habu  - Izena Island

Hime habu – Izena Island

The Hime habu was found October 9th 2016 on Izena Island.  It was located at the Izena castle site.

Izena castle

Izena castle -Iphone 6s

A sign at the port welcomes visitors to to the beautiful Island.  It states – no habu on the Island.

Izena Island welcome sign- No Habu

Izena Island welcome sign- No Habu

Be safe exploring the beautiful Islands of Okinawa.

Learn more about the venomous snakes of Okinawa in my previous blog post. http://okinawanaturephotography.com/venomous-snakes-of-okinawa-japan/

 

 

Sword-tailed newt – Endangered species

The Sword-tailed newt (Cynops ensicauda) is an endangered species found on the main islands of Okinawa an Amami. It is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species. This amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to deforestation and road kill.

  • Scientific name: Cynops ensicauda
  • Distribution: Okinawa and Anami Islands
  • Habitat: Forests, wetlands and fresh water streams
  • Diet: Amphibian eggs, tadpoles, snails, worms and insects
  • Average size: 100-180mm
Sword tailed newt with stripes

Sword tailed newt with stripes

They all have bright orange bellies, which serve as a warning sign to predators that they are poisonous. When threatened they produce a transparent skin toxin.

  •  Poisonous animals are toxic if you eat them or ingest their secretions.  Irritations may occur after handling these newts if you have open wounds. Avoid rubbing your eyes or placing your hands in your mouth.

Photographed on a white field studio board for the Meet your neighbours global biodiversity project (MYN).  All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

MYN technique - Sword tailed newt

MYN technique – Sword tailed newt

11695868544_ae57a8196f_b

Sword-tailed newt- Okinawa, Japan

The newt photographed in its natural habitat.

Sword-tailed newt in natural habitat

Sword-tailed newt in natural habitat

Sword tailed newt

Sword tailed newt -Onna village

Sword tailed newt

Sword tailed newt – Onna village


An average looking sword-tailed newt with a blood sucking leech

Sword-tailed newt with leech

Sword-tailed newt with leech

The Sword- tailed newt is often found crossing the road on rainy days in northern Okinawa. The government has designed specialized wildlife steps for animals that get trapped in road side drainage ditches. These steps allow the newts to crawl out safely.

Wildlife steps

Wildlife steps

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!