Hyogo and the Ressurection of the Oriental White Stork

Oriental White Stork

The Oriental White Stork is a large white wetland bird with black-tipped wings that lives in Siberia, Manchuria, Korean Penisula, and Japan but it was once driven to extinction in the latter two regions. Hunting, the use of pesticides in rice agriculture, and loss of habitat are their primary threats But they were brought back to Japan using storks from Russia and are being raised in captivity and reintroduced into the wild when they are ready. The Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork in Hyogo, Japan raises 100s of these storks and releases those fit back into the wild.

Oriental White Stork
By Cory via Wikimedia Common

Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork

Hyogo prefecture has a long history of Oriental White Stork conservation, banning the hunting of them in 1908 and setting up a conservation program in 1955 and a captive breeding program in 1965. But breeding storks in very difficult and wasn’t successful until 1989. In 1999, the research institute called Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork was established in Toyooka, Hyogo as the wetlands there are a vital habitat for the Storks. The institution not only is responsible for reintroduction but also for maintaining genetic diversity and improving environmental conditions for the storks.

Grey Heron and Oriental White Stork
Grey Heron(left) and Park raised Oriental White Stork(right)
ByAlpsdake via Wikimedia Commons


For visitors to the Park, you can see Oriental White Storks being raised in captivity both as chicks and those, not suitable candidates to be released. There is a museum and information center on the grounds to give visitors information on these majestic birds and on the history of conservation efforts to save them. It is a popular place for couples wanting to have children as storks are a symbol of childbirth. For those wanting to see the storks in the wild, you have the chance at the nearby Hachigoro Toshima Wetland where many of the released call home.

Oriental White Storks n a pond
Oriental White Storks feeding at the park along with some herons
By Cory via Wikimedia Commons

Hachigoro Toshima Wetlands

Hachigoro Toshima Wetlands was created from converted rice paddies and is a Ramsar convention area. The artificial wetlands were designed to create habitats for the Storks. The area is unique because locals in the area have been active participants in converting ricefields into wetlands for the storks and the reintroduction project in general. This is a great example of community engagement leading to not just animals and people coexisting but local pride in wildlife that drives conservation efforts. Farmers have altered the flooding and draining of their ricefields for the storks as feeding grounds. The farmers benefit as well as they can sell the rice as premium “stork friendly rice”. The storks also bring in tourists and most importantly the tourist`s money to local businesses. The storks can be viewed in the wetlands in artificial nests tower near the mountains. There is an observation area for viewing the storks and other waterfowl, binoculars are recommended.

Wetland area with a small vbuilding for viewing storks
Hachigoro Toshima Wetlands
From Toyooka city official website

Access

Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork

The Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork is a 30 minute walk from Konotorinosato station or a 20 minute bus ride.

Hours: 9am-5pm(closed on tuesdays)

Admission: Free but a donation is suggested

Hachigoro Toshima Wetland

The wetlands are close to the famous Kinosaki Onsen . The wetlands can be visited from Kinosaki Onsen station in about 20 minutes on foot or half of that on a rented bike.

Hours: 9am-5pm(closed on tuesdays)

Admission: free

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