Hands to nurture, to inherit (2)
Hands to nurture, to inherit (2) >> Japanese Serow
This bovine is native to Japan and lives in mountain districts. The number decreased greatly one time due to indiscriminate hunting for fur and horns used for lures for skipjack fishing. It was designated a specially protected species in 1955.
The Japan Serow Center in Mie Prefecture is a serow zoo unparalleled in the world. It has always been the center of serow research, having a record of succeeding in artificial breeding of Japanese serow, which is said to be very difficult.
Hajimu Ichihashi, 70, who has worked for more than 40 years since the center opened, still works as a director and manages the exhibition hall. He is placing his efforts in PR such as issuing bulletins and creating picture postcards, in addition to serow breeding and ecology research with Naoya Yamano, 34, the head of the zoo, and staff.
Wild Japanese serows appear occasionally.
Mr. Yamano (left) and Mr. Ichihashi.
Japanese serows are said to be the original species of cows and is unique to primitive Japan's ice age. Overseas, it is considered as an animal that represents Japan and in many cases they are sent from Japan as the proof of friendly diplomatic relationships.
“However, here in Japan, there are still many people who image deer (shika) when they hear the name Japanese serow (kamoshika),” says Mr. Yamano. The number of Japanese serows decreased to below 3,000 in 1950s and in 1955 it was designated as the Special National Monument of Japan. Thanks to efforts of conservation, the number was restored to about 100,000. However, once the number declines drastically, gene diversity disappears. If you create siblings between relatives, species vulnerability to illness will increase. When the danger of extinction eased, a new problem arose, called vermin damage. Human meddling causes more harm than good.
“If everyone became aware of the ecology, coexistence between wild life and humans is possible. To realize this, it is important for many people to know about Japanese serows,” says Mr. Yamano.