Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Rare crested ibis hatches in Japan

TOKYO, April 23 (UPI) -- Japanese wildlife researchers say a crested ibis chick hatched in the wild is the first of the endangered birds born outside captivity in 36 years.

The nestling hatched from an egg produced by a pair of the endangered birds on Sado Island in Niigata prefecture, the Environment Ministry said Sunday.

Its parents, a 3-year-old male and 2-year-old female, were raised at an ibis conservation center on the island and released into the wild in March 2011.

They were found to have built a nest on March 16 of this year, Jiji Press reported, and the chick's birth was recorded by a remote camera placed near the nest.

The crested ibis, Nipponia Nippon, is registered as a special Japanese natural treasure, but their population plummeted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when they were overhunted for their beautiful feathers and when agricultural chemicals degraded their habitats.

The last true Japanese crested ibis died in October 2003, and Japan has been trying to reintroduce the species into the wild since 2008, after receiving a pair from China in 1999 to breed in captivity.

All crested ibises in Japan now are Chinese birds or their offspring, and a total of 76 have been released since September 2008.

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