Target: Koichi Yamamoto, Japan’s Minister of the Environment
Goal: End the destruction of the endangered Japanese black bear’s habitat by ending human encroachment and poaching in the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
The Japanese black bear is a highly threatened subspecies of the already-vulnerable Asian black bear, also known as the Asiatic black bear, which is only known to live on three of Japan’s outer islands: Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Eastern Honshu is said to be the black bear’s only remaining “stronghold,” with the possibility that it may actually now be extinct on Shikoku and Kyushu.
It has been reported that fewer than 10,000 of these bears remain in Japan, where they are mainly threatened by poaching for their body parts — a lucrative black market. The bears are also threatened by habitat destruction caused by human encroachment by the expansion of towns and villages. The establishment and deforestation of timber plantations, which began in the 1940s, has also contributed to the bear’s decline.
In 2009, a reporter for Yale E360 noted that, “Although it is a heavily urbanized nation, fully two-thirds of Japan remains woodlands. Yet many of the forests are timber plantations inhospitable to wildlife, especially black bears, which are struggling to survive in one of the most densely populated countries on Earth.”
The continued fragmentation of the Japanese black bears’ habitat forces them to travel farther for sustenance, compromising their survival in the wild. We must act now to end the habitat destruction and poaching that impacts the survival of the Japanese black bear.
Dear Minister Yamamoto,
Please pressure your government to do more to protect the Japanese black bear, a highly threatened subspecies of the vulnerable Asian black bear, which is only known to live on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
It has been reported that fewer than 10,000 individual Japanese black bears remain in Japan. They are chiefly threatened by habitat destruction due to human encroachment as well as poaching. The establishment and harvesting of timber plantations have also contributed to their decline.
Much more can be done to protect these rare and vulnerable bears from going extinct. There is no reason to continue poaching the bear for its body parts, and with its falling population, the expansion of towns and villages in the outer of islands of Japan makes little sense and only serves to destroy nature further. Please act now to protect the Japanese black bear.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Thomas Melle