Photo: Makoto Yokotsuka.
The Iriomote cat is a survivor. For centuries, it employed the surest survival technique of all — avoiding humans — before being scientifically described for the first time in 1967 by Dr. Yoshimori Imaizumi of Tokyo’s National Science Museum.
Its home, Iriomote Island, is one of the southernmost points in Japan. Located more than 1,200 miles from Tokyo, Iriomote is often called Japan’s last true wilderness. With 90 percent of its land still undeveloped, this sparsely populated tropical ecosystem has been the perfect hiding place for the yamaneko (literally “mountain cat”). Favoring dense rainforests and beaches, it hunts and breeds in the island’s lush mangrove stands.
Unfortunately, freedom from the heavy-handed interference of Homo sapiens recently came to an abrupt end. A new resort hotel has just opened on Todomari Beach, one of Iriomote’s most treasured natural spots, and environmentalists are outraged at the development’s potential impact on island wildlife.
“This beach is a pr... Read more