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Charismatic species

The red-crowned crane is one of many species of animals and plants that inhabit Hokkaido. Here are some of the species.

white-tailed sea eagle
About 150 pairs breed in forests near water in eastern and northern Hokkaido. In addition to the residents, more than 500 individuals winter in Hokkaido.

arctic iris
The wild iris found commonly in wetlands and margins of pastures in Hokkaido. This is the same species of wild iris found in arctic, subarctic, and cool temperate regions of North America, Siberia, China, and the Korean Peninsula. It flowers in June and July.


Sakhalin taimen
The largest freshwater fish in Japan. It grows to more than 1 m long. Due to loss of habitats, the population size of this species has been decreasing.

Asian skunk cabbage
One of the first plants to flower in wetlands in spring. It is related to the western skunk cabbage in the western USA, which is known for its unpleasant smell. However, the Asian skunk cabbage does not have an unpleasant smell.

Blakistons fish-owl
IUCN lists this species as endangered. This species breeds mostly in south-eastern Russia and Hokkaido. It nests in hollows on large trees and hunts fish, frogs, and small mammals along rivers, streams and coasts. Indigenous people of Hokkaido (the Ainu) call this species the god that protects villages.

Siberian salamander
This is a relict species that has colonized the Kushiro wetland from continental Asia more than 10000 years ago. This species can survive deep freezing of its body during winter.

brown bear
It is the largest terrestrial mammal in Hokkaido. Brown bears are not endangered, but sightings are not common in most parts of Hokkaido. The indigenous people (the Ainu) call this species the god of mountains.

willowleaf meadowsweet
Commonly found in wetlands in eastern Hokkaido. This species is also distributed across northern Eurasia. It forms impenetrable thickets in drier parts of wetlands. This species flowers in mid- to late summer.

Filipendula glaberrima
Related to the meadowsweet and dropwort in Europe and queen-of-the-forest and queen-of-the-prairie in North America. This species tends to grow in the margins of swamp woodlands. The flowerhead is made of many tiny intricate flowers and is stunningly beautiful.

Stellers sea eagle
IUCN lists this species as vulnerable. It breeds in Russian far east, and more than 1000 individuals winter in Hokkaido each year.

sika deer
In recent years, the population size of sika deer in Hokkaido has exploded, and it is not uncommon to see sika deer in wetlands or forests, especially in winter.

whooper swan
This species can be seen in the same habitats as the cranes from November to early May. In fall and spring, one may see a flock of more than 1000 swans.

diving bell spider
This is another example of a relict species that colonized the Kushiro wetland more than 10000 years ago. It is one of a few species of spiders that completes its entire life cycle under water.

monkshood
This species occurs in Hokkaido and south-eastern Russia. Of over 250 species of monkshood, this species is said to have the strongest toxin. The indigenous people (the Ainu) used the toxin extracted from roots of this plant when hunting brown bears. It flowers in late summer.

red fox
The red fox is the most visible of mammalian predators. It is not uncommon to spot a fox or two while driving in the countryside. This species is one of main predators of red-crowned cranes in Hokkaido.

Japanese iris
The wild stock of the iris commonly cultivated throughout Japan. It is abundant in some wetlands in eastern Hokkaido. This species flowers from late June to early August.

Latham‘s snipe
This pigeon-sized snipe breeds in the Russian far east and northern Japan and winters in eastern Australia. At least some individuals fly non-stop between their breeding and wintering grounds.

red-eyed damselfly
The best time to see this attractive damselfly is from late June to mid-August. This species occurs in eastern Hokkaido and Siberia.

Siberian onion
New growth in early spring is highly sought after as a wild vegetable in Japan. Each local resident has his or her own secret patch, and its location is not revealed even to family members.

Jacob‘s-ladder
This subspecies of Jacob‘s-ladder is found only in eastern Hokkaido. It flowers briefly in early summer, and the chance to see these delicate blue flowers is easily missed.

cotton grass
In Hokkaido, the cotton grass is found only in boggy wetlands. Mass flowering occurs once every several years.

Ezo salamander
Endemic to Hokkaido, this species feeds on invertebrates and small vertebrates, including other individuals of the same species. Unlike the Siberian salamander, this species needs to hibernate in deep water or soil to avoid freezing of its body.

Siberian rubythroat
This sparrow-sized songbird breeds in Hokkaido and eastern Russia and winters in Southeast Asia. It is found in open habitats with some thickets.

peacock butterfly
They are common in areas where wooded hills meet pastures. Undersides of the wings are almost black. They look like a different species when the wings are shut.

Spectacled guillemot
This pigeon-sized seabird breeds in northern Japan and eastern Russia. The population size in Japan has decreased dramatically in recent decades.

water caltrop
It is ubuquitus in shallow and still water bodies. Seeds have four hard spikes but are eaten by the bean goose. People in Eurasia have also used the seed for food and medicine.

whiteface
This beautiful dragonfly belongs to a group known as whitefaces. This particular species occurs in Siberia and in the vicinity of the Kushiro wetland.

tussock sedge
Tussocks are often found in the understory of semi-open wooded wetlands but are sometimes seen in open wetlands.

Reference:
  • Ministry of the Environment (Japan), ed. 2014. Red Data Book 2014 -Threatened Wildlife of Japan- Volume 2, Aves (in Japanese with English summary). GYOSEI Corporation, Tokyo.



Red-crowned Crane ConservancyRed-crowned Crane Conservancy


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