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."
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.
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.