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Old 5th February 2010   #1
John
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Default GBR Press: Giant Salamanders: Human thread, human promise

BBC News (London, UK) 05 February 2010 Giant Salamander: Human threat, human promise (Richard Black)

(Article includes 2 videos and several photographs)

As we pull into Toyohira, an unusual and unexpected welcome committee is lined up ready to receive us.
The group of primary-age children breaks into a song about the bonds of friendship between human and salamander.
"It's everyone's friend," they warble through the chilled afternoon air.
"Let's be friends forever."
A small river burbles its accompaniment - a river flowing past their school, which contains along its length a number of concrete structures designed to make sure the Japanese giant salamanders, or hanzaki, are still around by the time the next generation of children stands in the same spot and sings the same song.
The "hanzaki holes" are a key conservation tool in a land where many rivers are now sculpted not by nature, but by the hand of man.
When I ask Professor Masafumi Matsui from Kyoto University, a leading Japanese authority on all matters amphibian, to name the single biggest modern threat to this animal that has been around roughly unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs, he answers without demur: "The construction of dams and roads, which destroys the habitats".
"We can't do without constructing such things; and [the habitat] will be cut upstream and downstream."

Continued (with video and photos): BBC News - Giant salamander: Human threat, human promise



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