Little Pika of Hokkaido

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A Message from the Little Pika of Hokkaido
as Translated by Toshimi Ichikawa*


Photo by Mr.Yasuhiro Sakashita **

I am a Japanese pika (Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis) living in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. We have been living among boulders on talus slopes in mountain areas such as Daisetsu Mountain National Park, Japan's last wilderness, for thirty or forty thousand years. We originated in Siberia and, passing through Sakhalin, came to Hokkaido in the Ice Age on land bridges that had formed due to a drop in the sea level between Hokkaido Island and the Eurasian continent. After the end of the Ice Age, as it was getting warmer, we went upward to a higher part of the mountains for we can't live without cool, clean air. Since we have survived to the present day, we are called "Relics of the Ice Age."

Although we are classified as a different species from American pikas, our appearance and ecology are very similar to theirs. The biggest difference is we are in a critical situation because of timber cutting and the construction of roads and ski resorts while American pikas live peacefully. We are sensitive to automobile exhaust and have a low tolerance to heat; therefore, we emphasize that any more development in our habitat must be stopped even though such development may give human beings enormous conveniences.

In 1995, seven women started the Pika Fan Club in order to protect us and to get us designated as an endangered species and as a national natural monument. Now it has more than 2000 members, who are our advocates. The Club launched a grass roots campaign with other nature conservation organizations to block the construction of a road right through my wilderness home. Their petition was favorably reviewed in 1999 and the road was stopped. The Club continues its efforts to permanently protect us, and our home, with special designations.

I would like to ask you to protect and conserve our habitat, where you can see precious alpine flowers and wildlife, including our predators, weasels and martins, which also are threatened species in Japan. You have already helped by becoming aware of our story. If you would like, you may special order a hand made toy Naki described below. Sitting on a rock in Hokkaido's "Garden of the Gods," I am asking all of you for help.

Thank you,

Naki

*Ms.Toshimi Ichikawa is one of the seven Pika Fan Club Founders.

** Mr.Yasuhiro Sakashita is a professional photographer who lives in Sapporo city located in the center of Hokkaido. He is a collaborator with the Pika Fan Club and has photographed many pikas on Hokkaido.

The Pika Fan Club publishes a quarterly Pika newsletter (in Japanese) and sells an original videotape, "The World of Pikas," postcards, stuffed toy pikas (nakkies), and other pika products mainly through the Pika Fan Club Web Site (also in Japanese).

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