Healing Okinoshima Island – Restoring a sacred Japanese landscape overrun by rats

The 80-hectare island of Okinoshima lies 50 nautical miles northwest from Fukuoka, in southern Japan, on an ancient trading route with Korea. It is deeply revered by the Japanese. But the island’s bird populations, including the endangered Japanese murrelet, is under threat. The decline of the birds is a direct consequence of an invasion of predatory rats.

Globally, over the last 500 years, 80% of all extinctions have occurred on islands as a result of the deliberate or inadvertent introduction of invasive species. Feral Goats, cats and rats are the usual suspects.

Island Conservation, a global network of conservationists and biologists based in California, orchestrates rehabilitation of islands on a global stage and has set its sights on saving or contributing to the remediation of these past 500 years in the next decade. Okinoshima is a candidate.

A member of the iLCP Family, Andrew S. Wright, tells us the story of this island, working with Island Conservation, in “Healing Okinoshima Island” on the National Geographic News Watch.