Captive breeding programs are recognized as an important method to conserve endangered species. In the present study, the feasibility of a captive breeding program for the sun bear (Helacrtos malayanus) was evaluated by population viability analysis in Sarawak, Malaysia. First, the reproductive pattern and genetic diversity of the sun bear were studied to obtain sufficient information for conducting the population viability analysis. The results of fecal estradiol and progesterone measurements suggested that sun bears in Sarawak have a single annual reproductive activity synchronized to the rainy season. Further, the captive sun bear population in Sarawak appeared to have adequate gene diversity to found a captive breeding project. A population viability analysis was then conducted based on reported physiological data as well as the new findings mentioned above. The result of the population viability analysis indicated that the captive population in Sarawak could be maintained for next 200 years with a probability of over 80%, with one female supplementation every five to 10 years using present facilities and captive management techniques. Therefore a captive breeding program might be one way, indeed a practical method, to conserve sun bears in Sarawak, Malaysia.
In 1995 we started the Java Hawk-Eagle project to promote the research and conservation of this raptor in Indonesia. The Java Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus bartelsi) is a National Bird of Indonesia as well as the umbrella species ranking high in the food chain of the ecosystem. Although nature in Asia, including Indonesia, is rich in bio-diversity and there are many kinds of raptors, very little research pertaining to raptors had been done. Therefore, we thought that the establishment of this project would be very effective in encouraging the research and conservation of not only raptors and their habitats, but also other wildlife and the natural environment in Indonesia. Of great necessity is building up the relationship of the local people to wildlife conservation organizations, the economic foundation of which supports initiative activities and raptor researchers towards the long-term establishment of further research and conservation in Indonesia. Through continuous attempts with Indonesian government agencies, JICA biodiversity teams, NGOs, students, and local people during the past 9 years, the recognition of the meaning of raptors' existence has become fixed among the people, so that voluntary research and conservation projects for raptors could be carried out. Furthermore, eco-tours were conducted by local inhabitants and NGOs, and the expansion of the range of national park based on the results of research by national park staff members began to be discussed.
The Japanese Islands are surrounded by the four seas where have the natural different characteristics. They are long from north to south, and have a growth continental shelf. In addition, the complicated submarine environment has very high productivity of biomass capacity conjointly. Although it has contributed to the coastal fishery, a decline in the biodiversity is caused now. On the other hand, although the land area of Japan is 60th in the world, the 200-nautical mile (370.4km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is 6th in the world. The Marine Wildlife Center of Japan has investigated with Russian specialists using the system of "specialist exchange without visa" about the whales, marine mammals (steller sea lion, seals and sea otter), sea birds, and marine environment of the northern territories (Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai, and Shikotan islands) since 1999. In 2002, we conducted investigations about land (Etorofu) animals. It became clear that the land has also maintained the primeval ecosystem, and has deep relation with the sea ecosystem. I want to consider the policy of diversity preservation of Japan in the future, by giving an example of the marine animals about the primeval ecosystem of the northern territories where the biodiversity is preserved.
On November 13, 2000, an Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) was transferred from the Melaka Zoo in Malaysia to the Sapporo Maruyama Zoo in Japan. During quarantine at the Sapporo Maruyama Zoo, nematode and cestode eggs were observed and disinfestation was conducted using Praziquantel. Segments were found in feces, but it was impossible to identify the cestode species morphologically because all were gravid segments filled with eggs. DNA extraction was conducted from the parasite eggs in the feces and from the segments. Sequences of cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COX1) in mitochondrial DNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) were ascertained. The results of a homology search showed that the sequences of ITS obtained from both the parasite eggs and the segments were similar to the sequence of a fungus. Two kinds of COX 1 sequence were obtained from the parasite eggs; one was similar to Ancylostoma, while the other, a sequence that was the same as that obtained from the segments, was related to Paranoplocephala. The results of the present study indicated that species identification might be possible based on sequences obtained from parasite eggs in feces. Furthermore, the method might be useful for diagnosis of parasite infections in wild species with only scarce information about parasitic helminth fauna.
Some species of raptors, such as the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and the mountain hawk-eagle (Spizaetus nipalensis), were recently reduced in population by habitat destruction. Conservation of habitats and genetic diversity for raptors is crucial. However, there is little genetic information on raptors. In this study, 8 microsatellite markers isolated from the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and gyrfalcon (Falco msticolus) were applied to 6 other raptors. The number of loci detected polymorphisms in the black kite, goshawk, kestrel, marsh harrier, golden eagle and mountain hawk-eagle were 2, 5, 3, 2, 2 and 1, respectively. The mean numbers of alleles per locus detected polymorphisms were 5, 4, 3.3, 2, 2.5 and 2, respectively. The mean expected heterozygosity per locus detected polymorphisms was 0.438, 0.607, 0.423, 0.278, 0.528 and 0.375, respectively. The probability that a randomly chosen individual would match a given genotype for all the loci was 4.24 × 10^<-2>, 3.39 × 10^<-4>, 3.38 × 10^<-2>, 3.14 × 10^<-1>, 9.55 × 10^<-2> and 4.57 × 10^<-1>, respectively. Except for 1 marker, these markers were detected in at least 1 species and showed their usefulness. We examined the efficiency of cross-species amplification among raptors and selected useful microsatellite markers for analyzing genetic polymorphism, which will be valuable for conservation and research in the future.
The ligament of head of femur in the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) was examined anatomically and histologically. Collagen fibers formed a thick ligament, which was tightly attached to the acetabular fossa in an area approximately 60 mm long, 20 mm wide, and 10-15 mm deep. The proximal part of the ligament was buried in a deep ditch in the acetabular fossa, and the margin of the lunate surface enveloped the origin ligament. The ligament originated dorso-lateral to the acetabuar center, and ran ventro-medially over the medial surface of the acetabulum along the notch to reach the femoral head. Based on these findings, we advocate a mechanical model in which the thick ligament and its enlarged attachment act to restrict adduction of the femur in this animal, as in humans. Unlike humans, however, we suggest that in the Asian elephant this ligament is not directly involved in restricting extension and flexion.
This research demonstrates the application of diagnostic imaging techniques using soft X-ray radiography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for non-destructive inspection of the northern smooth-tailed tree shrew (Dendrogale marina) . A non-invasive morphological observation is possible in each method. Soft X-ray radiography reveals the excellent skeletal system, but the soft tissue structures are projected with superimposition of morphological structures. However, 3-dimensional renderings of CT images can be manipulated toprovide images of the skin surface and skeletal system from any view, though spatial resolution was limited. Although MRI provides sectional morphological images in any plane, magnetic susceptibility artifacts from metallic foreign bodies were seen. Findings from this study suggest that medical imaging techniques can be successfully used for nondestructive interrogation of endangered animals. Yet it is important to remember that the selection of the imaging modality depends on its purpose.