In the public service of wildlife rehabilitation in Japan, national endangered species (NES) specified by the “Act on conservation of endangered species of wild fauna and flora” are often rescued. Some of these rescued NES individuals cannot be released into the wild for various reasons, and according to this Act, such individuals must not be euthanized unless the euthanasia itself contributes to the conservation of the species. In local wildlife rehabilitation facilities, many and varied efforts have therefore attempted to make effective conservation use of rescued NES individuals. However, the growing number of breeding NES individuals in lifelong captivity has put serious pressure not only on the finances, manpower, and equipment dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation, but also on the rescued individual's welfare. The Ministry of the Environment has provided no clear guidelines on occasions when euthanasia would be the preferred option, from both veterinary and animal welfare perspectives, for dealing with rescued NES individuals. Further, no clear guidelines exist for triage in cases where a large number of NES individuals are rescued at the same time. Careful discussion of the issues involving non-releasable NES individuals has increased the demand for development of such guidelines, which consider both the conservation and welfare of NES. In this special issue, a range of contributors discuss the growth of this demand and consider the elements that such guidelines should include in order to be practicable.
The Wildlife Protection, Management and Hunting Law as well as the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora are applied to the field of endangered species in Japan. The Basic Guideline for implementation of wildlife protection and management projects based on the Wildlife Protection, Management and Hunting Law indicates how to deal with injured wildlife. According to this guideline, injured endangered birds and animals are examined as captive breeding, research, education or lifelong breeding. In case these treatments are difficult, they are examined destruction without pain referring to the advice by experts. In contrast, the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora doesn’t have regulations on injured wildlife of national endangered species of wild fauna and flora under this Law. Thus, injured endangered species shall be cared continuously as captive breeding, research and public awareness. Besides, destruction of nationally endangered species of wild fauna and flora is considered to be prohibited under this law. While some species of national endangered species of wild fauna and flora such as Japanese crested ibis Nipponia nippon or Okinawa rail Gallirallus okinawae to whom protection and breeding programs are ongoing and efforts of ex-situ conservation have been taken, the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora doesn’t indicate a clear policy about handling the individuals of such species that are incapable to be released into wild.
Kushiro Zoo, Hokkaido, Japan, operates a rescue program for the wild red-crowned cranes (Grus iaponensis) that inhabit Hokkaido. Wounded cranes are treated at the zoo; however, because of limited cage space and manpower at the zoo, two injured cranes can be accepted at one time. Officers from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) capture injured cranes in the field. However, because of the limited facilities at the zoo, if at all possible, cranes are treated and monitored in the field. If judged necessary by MOE officers, the cranes are taken to the Kushiro Shitsugen Wildlife Center. After treatment and full recovery, cranes are leg banded and released. Cranes that have become too familiar with humans by artificial brooding or have not recovered the ability to fly, are kept in captivity for breeding, with planned release of their chicks into the wild. Cranes with artificial legs are kept alone in indoor cages and throughout their life. Cranes that cannot stand and are paralyzed on lower side are force fed or cared for in hammocks. Kushiro Zoo has many cages for cranes, but the increasing number of injured cranes unsuited for the breeding program, has created many problems. With the increase in population, expansion of habitat, and change in lifestyle, it is likely that the number of rescued cranes will increase. Therefore, major reform of the rescue program is urgently required.
Rare Species listed in the “Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” cannot be euthanized unless they are infected with dangerous infectious diseases. Therefore, rescued wild animals that cannot be released are kept in captivity until their death in rehabilitation centers. In Kushiro Shitugen Wild Life Center, we rescue about 20 Steller’s Sea Eagles and White Tailed Eagles annually. Under such conditions, the numbers of eagles that are unable to be released and kept for long-term are increasing. Now, at the center, these eagles are used for blood transfusion, education, and development of accident prevention measures. However, only few of the birds are actually used. Since the capacity of the center is limited, it is necessary to develop systems to make full use of the birds that are unable to be released, and at the same time, regulation of euthanasia on rare species must be reconsidered.
A parasitological survey of the carcasses and feces of breeding Japanese giant salamanders （Andrias japonicus） kept in Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park, Japan, was performed. We detected four nematodes, Spiroxys sp., Kathlaniidae gen. sp., Physalopteroidea fam. gen. sp., Capillariidae gen. sp., and; a trematode Liolope copulans; two protozoans, Balantidium sp. and Eimeria spp.. This is the first record of these genera in the Japanese giant salamander. A brief discussion of the health problems and pathology of captive salamanders caused by the parasitic helminths found in this survey is included.
Over the past five years since 2010, waterfowl individuals with protruded eyeballs were observed within an overwintering population at Saigawa River in Azumino City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. From the protruded eyeballs in an individual of the tundra swan Cygnus columbianus, a leech specimen in the genus Theromyzon. （Annelida, Hirudinea）was collected； the digestive tract of the leech contained blood including avian erythrocytes. Due to the poor condition of the specimen, however, it was not identified down to the species level, although other specimens from the waterfowls’ roost pond were positively confirmed to be T. tessulatum. The waterfowl eyeball protrution can be mainly caused by T. tessulatum parasitism.