The Environment Ministry plans to expand the range of Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park to include the entirety of Iriomotejima island, a total of about 29,000 hectares, according to sources.
The park currently comprises parts of Iriomotejima island and other areas in Okinawa Prefecture. The ministry will decide on the policy in its Central Environment Council soon and announce it in an official journal around late March.
Currently, one-third of Iriomotejima, or about 10,800 hectares, is designated as the national park. By expanding the area, the ministry intends to strengthen its protection of rare animals, including Iriomote wild cats (see below), an endangered species designated as a special natural treasure, and preserve the original ecosystem on Iriomotejima.
The government aims to have the Amami-Ryukyu region, including Iriometejima, registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.
Wild cats that live only on Iriomotejima island. Adults are about 60 centimeters long, weigh three to five kilograms and eat such animals as lizards, frogs and prawns. About 100 cats are estimated to live on Iriomotejima. They are designated as a class-1A endangered species, which faces the highest danger of extinction.
source by the-japan-news