Winter Wildlife on Hokkaido

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Winter Wildlife on Hokkaido

Photographer: Kimimasa Mayama


The cranes overwinter on a river that does not freeze to protect themselves from their natural enemies like foxes, weasels, crows, Steller's sea eagles, white-tailed eagles and others. The estimated population of the red-crowned crane lies between 2,000 and 2,500 birds, with habitats in northern Japan, northeastern China, Mongolia, Korean Peninsula and eastern Russia. The population on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido is estimated at about 1,200 cranes.

The Steller’s sea eagle, named after German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, and the white-tailed eagle are protected and designated as National Treasure in Japan. The Steller's sea eagle lives in northeastern Russia, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the coastal area of the Sea of Okhotsk and travels south for winter. Their population is estimated at around 5,000-7,000 all over the world. About 2,000 of them travel to northern Japan to overwinter. The white-tailed eagle lives in a wider area, in northern Europe, from northeastern Russia's Peninsula of Kamchatka to Norway, and northern Asia. The population of the white-tailed eagle is estimated at around 5,000-8,000 birds.

On 11 March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit northeastern Japan. So far it appears that the disaster has not had any adverse effects on the animals' habitat on Hokkaido.