Ogasawara’s Birds Increase as Island Preservation Continues

August 30, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. endemic / ɛnˈdɛm ɪk / (adj.) – living or growing only in a particular place
Example: Many tourists come to see the country’s endemic animals.

2. ecosystem / ˈɛk oʊˌsɪs təm / (n.) – all living and non-living things that are part of a certain environment
Example: Different places have diverse ecosystems.

3. susceptible / səˈsɛp tə bəl / (adj.) – affected by something easily
Example: Newborn babies are susceptible to disease.

4. feral / ˈfɪər əl / (adj.) – referring to an animal that escaped from care and became wild
Example: Several dogs from the deserted village became feral when their owners left them.

5. initiative / ɪˈnɪʃ i ə tɪv / (n.) – a program or project made to solve a problem
Example: The government is making new initiatives to save the islands’ birds.


Read the text below.
The Environment Ministry of Japan announced that conservation efforts in Ogasawara Islands are showing good results.

The Ogasawara Islands, also called Bonin Islands, are made up of more than 30 islands situated 1,000 kilometers from central Tokyo. The islands are home to a wide variety of plants and animals, several of which are endemic. The island group is not connected to other bodies of land, because it was formed through volcanic activity. For this reason, the islands’ ecosystem developed in isolation, causing it to be very susceptible to the influence of outsiders.

Many species living in the islands became endangered after people started inhabiting some of the islands in 1830. Among those most affected were Ogasawara’s birds, because they were hunted by pet cats brought into the islands.

These cats increased drastically over the years, with some of them becoming feral. They endangered several bird species, such as the Akagashira Karasubato, also known as red-headed wood pigeons. The population of the species was reduced to only about 40, until conservation efforts were enacted.

In 2005, the Environment Ministry and the Tokyo Veterinary Medical Association began capturing the feral cats and putting them up for adoption. This initiative aimed to solve the problem without having to harm the captured cats.

Moreover, the Ogasawara Islands were recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage five years ago. This recognition encouraged more people to help with the islands’ preservation.  The Environment Ministry reported that the population of red-headed wood pigeons have now reached around 500, as more and more people outside the islands are adopting the rescued cats.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with what the government did to save the islands’ birds? Why or why not?
·         What else can be done to preserve the species in the island? Enumerate.

Discussion B

·         Should islands like Ogasawara be inhabited, or should they be left alone? Why?
·         What can inhabitants of the island do to protect the islands’ ecosystem? Discuss.

August 30, 2016