Alien invasion

Published: Friday 15 December 2000

several native species of flora and fauna in Japan are under threat from alien or exotic species. "Their population has been rising by 30 per cent every year. Steps should be taken to immediately curb their increasing population," said Hiroshi Nukumi, chief (environmental protection section), Kagoshima prefecture.

One good example is the mongoose, which was introduced to Amamioshima Island in 1979. Valued in India and other countries for its cobra-killing abilities, it was to combat the dreaded habu, a poisonous snake. But besides the snake, several rare indigenous species are falling prey to the mongoose.

Present laws allow the capture of invasive species only when they pose a direct threat to agricultural production. But only a specified number can be caught. "It is important to make the public aware of what loss of biodiversity means and what damage invasive alien species can cause. We need new laws that will enable us to control these species," said Okimasa Murakami of Kyoto University, who is a member of the Ecological Society of Japan.

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