Kochi’s Sika deer population caught in the crosshairs

512px-Cervus_nippon_01The forest is rather bright. It appears to be in the middle of winter as there is not a leaf left on the tree. But wait, this tree doesn’t seem right. The bark of the lower trunk is gone. It’s obvious as there is stony bark on the upper trunk, but nothing stony on the tree trunk below about 1 m high from the ground. It’s completely smooth with a woody creamy color. What is going on? Continue reading Kochi’s Sika deer population caught in the crosshairs

Tanuki: Nyctereutes procyonoides

Since the old days, Japanese people have had friendly feelings toward tanuki, the raccoon dog. Its taxonomy is raccoon dog genus, dog family and scientific name is Nyctereutes procyonoides. It length is 50~60cm,weight is 3~10kg and life is 3~5years.

The raccoon dog

It distribution is Russia, China and Japan. Recently, raccoon dog lives in Poland, Germany, Finland, France and Italy. It was imported for fur, and has since gone wild.Also, Japanese raccoon dog has two species. First is Ezo raccoon dogs in Hokkaido. Second is Hondo raccoon dogs in Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku. Ezo raccoon dog’s fur and limbs are longer than Hondo raccoon dog’s. The raccoon dog is seen villages mountains, superhighways and dwellings in Kochi. These are Hondo raccoon dogs.

Their shape is thickset, short paw, thick tail, gray-brown body color and black around eyes.

It is nocturnal and it lives in forest. It lives singly or in pair. Pairs continue till one partner die. Also, it doesn’t have a specific territory. Raccoon dog is omnivorous, eating for example mice, frogs, birds, eggs, fish, insects and fruit, etc.

It is of the carnivorous , or cat, order whose common ancestor lived in trees in the forest, but left the habitat of grassy plain to forests to look for game. It evolved into various species. The tanuki is is dog genus.Then raccoon dog adapted to life in the forest. It retains the characteristics of primitive dog genus animal.

In the modern era, raccoon dog was almost driven to extinction because of indiscriminate hunting.The raccoon dog was over hunted by people for fur product. Recently mountains and forests are declining, so raccoon dog are seen at the city. They live in drains, and eat the kitchen garbage. As a result they are increasingly involved in traffic accidents all over Japan.

By the way, the raccoon dog has many local name. For example, in farm village around Kanto people call them Mujina. Other local names include Anappo, Kainehori, Danza, Tonchibo, Hachimujina, Banbuku, Bo-zu, Mameda and Yomono. These names are based on action and appearance.

Also there is a famous Japanese expression using raccoon dog, “Tanukineiri”. It means pretending to be asleep. This language origin is from when the hunter shoots a gun, and the raccoon dog was so surprised by the report of a gun that it fainted. The hunter thought he had downed a raccoon dog, and he was careless. Just then, raccoon dog wake up and run away. This old story shows cowardly character of raccoon dog.

Raccoon dog is very popular among Japanese people!

Momiji: Acer palmatum

There are many scenes only in Japan having the four seasons, for example, mountains. In spring, colorful flower the bloome, green leaves sprout and photosynthesize by sunlight in summer, then change of leaves in autumn. The state is colored leaves and that main species is called Momiji(Maple). Maple usually turns red and the leaves have deep notches. But, Maple which we know commonly is not name of species; it means color change of leaves. Generally, maple is tree of Hiroshima Pref.

The tree which turns red:Acer palmatum

There are a lot of species of maples in Aceraceae Acer and Acer palmatum which is main species of broad-leaves deciduous forest, but Acer oblongum subsp. itoanum is an only evergreen as an exception. Ginkgo and Fagus are other species which colored leaves, so the color is not red but also yellow or brown. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is the most popular in Japan which has a height of there are 15m, the diameter of the trunk is more than 80cm. When colored leaves, many

Japanese maple which was used as decoration use is now seen anywhere in all over Japan, but the kind grow naturally prefer a low mountain above the sea level around 1,000m from the level ground.

The tree which turns red; examine is maple grow wild in the mountainous district of Fukushima Pref, southward. The place of the district in a high latitude belong to the subarctic zone is not suitable for the growth of the deciduous broad-leaved tree, conifers hold mostly there.

Mechanism of color change is very unique. Each ingredient is different as a colored leaved. At first, leaves of color are Green in summer because has Chlorophyll A, become cold and shorten hours of sunlight, chlorophylls A is resolves and make special tissue in joint of leaves. Next, Glucose, sucrose, amino acid; made in leaves, stored in itself, that is why new coloring matter is made from their sugar with photosynthesis, and then adjust the matter and male red or yellow color. Finally the leaves fall on the ground. In that, red colors of colored leaves is cause that chlorophyll change to anthocyanin, red from green, and yellow is change to carotenoid. But leaves that keep the original color, for example, purple color. Form of tree is various in Acer palmatum. For example, Japanese maple and Acer palmatum are become tall tree, their petal are very small.

Japanede meple was draw on Japanese old picture scrolls and cards, so it shows they are familiar to Japanese people. And maples are some 300 species from various breeding in Edo century.

Tengutake: Amanita pantherina

Tengutake(Scientific name is Amanita pantherina) is a kind of toadstool. Its body is about 20~30 cm and color is white. It has a brown cap and there are many white grains on the surface of cap.

Tengutake belongs to the Tengutake family, Tengutake genus. Kinds of Tengutake family are Benitengutake, Tamagotengutake, and Tamagotake etc. Benitengutake has a red cap, and Benitengutake’s poison is weaker than that of Tengutake and Tamagotengutake. But Benitengutake is famous on book and TV game etc. Tamagotengutake has a white cap and a very strong poison will kill a person. Tamagotake has an orange cap, but Tamagotake doesn’t have poison. Therefore, it is edible. Tamagotake’s cap is round first. When it grows up, it opens and is depressed.

Tengutake grow in the forests in the temperate zone from summer to fall. Tengutake grow mainly Japanese red pine forests, Konara, and Kunugi forests etc.

If you eat Tengutake, it cause the runs, vomit, and hallucinations. And it may cause unconsciousness. Tengutake’s poison have a effect to kill fly. So, Tengutake is called Haetoritake.

If you walk in the forests and find a mushroom that you can’t identify, don’t take and eat it.