Activity contents

Activity of each working group

IPPM-OWS has established an ex situ conservation working group for the conservation of captive oriental white storks in facilities, such as zoos (ex situ conservation), as well as an in situ conservation working group for the conservation of wild oriental white storks (in situ conservation). The two working groups function together to implement various activities.
Ex situ conservation working group

What is the ex situ conservation?

Ex situ conservation is conservation activities performed in places that is not the original habitat (in captivity).
Ex situ population acts as the source for the release and insurance against accidental events that can occur in the in situ population. To maintain the ex situ population in a sustainable state, as many individuals as possible must be kept and as much genetic diversity as possible should be maintained.

Members of the ex situ conservation working group and its activity

The ex situ conservation working group involves oriental white stork breeding facilities.
Here, we consider individual storks reared in different facilities across Japan as a single population to formulate population management plans and support the participating organizations and facilities to cooperate in implementing these plans. We also engage in developing captive breeding techniques and public relation activities.

Activity content

Introducing the main activities of the ex situ conservation working group
1. Formulating the management plans to maintain the population and genetic diversity of the ex situ population and support the implementation of these plans.
Using the demographic software PMx, we formulate the ex situ population management plans based on data obtained by the population analysis.
Based on this plan, we strive to maintain an appropriate population by pairing and conducting reproductive management taking the genetic diversity into account. Breeding control includes the movement of fertilized eggs between facilities, aiming at the reduction of stress on the birds.
2.Improvement of techniques, necessary for captive management and veterinary treatment
We carry out training for IPPM-OWS members on oriental white stork capture and breeding techniques. In addition, we provide various advice to new breeding facilities.
We promote the sharing of oriental white stork medical data.
3. Research on the management of ex situ populations and presentation of the results
Information on the studbook registration of ex situ population is shared within IPPM-OWS, and data are analyzed for population management. The obtained analytical results are discussed in expert meetings.
We hold lectures for the general public that contributes to public awareness about oriental white stork conservation conducted by IPPM-OWS through presentation of our initiatives and research results.
4. Promotion of public awareness activities
We carry out public awareness activities related to the reintroduction and conservation of the oriental white stork through some educational events.
In situ conservation working group

What is the in situ conservation?

In situ conservation is the conservation performed in the wild where the species originally inhabits.
Since oriental white storks in Japan went extinct in 1971, in situ conservation has been initiated by reintroducing captive-bred individuals into their original habitats.
In 2007, breeding in the wild started and the in situ population has been increasing steadily.
However, various problems are emerging. For instance, there are insufficient water linkage required to increase prey biomass and availability; there is an imbalance between stork families that succeed in fledging young in the wild; and the risk of kinship mating is increasing.

The members of the in situ conservation working group and its activity

The in situ conservation working group mainly involves institutions and facilities that work on the reintroduction of oriental white storks. Collaboration with local residents, various local organizations, agencies and ministries concerned is indispensable for solving problems related to in situ conservation. The in situ conservation working group works with such organizations and ministries to expand the oriental white stork's habitats by providing support as needed.

Activity content

Introducing the main activities of the in situ conservation working group
1.In situ population management based on scientific knowledge
We have created a database of in situ populations by analyzing the local populations genetically and then proposing and formulating population management plans based on results of the analysis.
2.Support for local stakeholders and institutions working on reintroduction
We conduct scientific analysis on ecology of in situ populations and provide technical support on population management (e.g., individual identification of wild-bred individuals). We provide support and advice to local regions/communitiies that are working toward establishing new breeding populations of the oriental white stork.
3.Promotion of public awareness activities
We carry out public awareness activities about reintroduction and conservation of the oriental white stork through some educational events.
4.Providing information on wild storks
A search system of wild individual storks from the leg-band color pattern is opened to the public, and we operate a system that allows anyone to get information of storks that visit various places instantly by using smartphone.
5.Improvement of various techniques related to reintroduction
We carry out technical training of our members on the management of wild population.

Examples of activities

Formulation and implementation of management plans for in situ and ex situ populations

IPPM-OWS formulates population management plans using analytical software for population management to maintain genetic diversity of the in situ and ex situ populations. In addition, IPPM-OWS sometimes bear some of the expenses that member organizations and facilities cannot cover to implement the plans.
We also advise each member organization and facility in order that technical supports can be provided appropriately between them.
Demographic software PMx

IPPM-OWS utilizes PMx, a demographic software for population management.
Based on information on the family lineage following the founder (the first generation that entered captivity and bred), individual information, such as sex and birth date, can be used for demographic analysis. Further, based on breeding success rate, breeding period and genetic interrelationships of the entire population, future predictions on effects of new-born chicks on the overall genetic diversity of the population are made possible.

Transport of fertilized eggs

To maintain the populations, securing genetic diversity is an important issue.
IPPM-OWS formulates population management plans based on scientific evidences and promotes gene exchange by transporting oriental white storks across the member facilities.
The exchange between member facilities by transporting fertilized eggs is increasing. This is due to the fact that the risk of accidents and the cost of egg transfer are lower than that of bird transfer.
Oriental white storks generally continue to incubate their eggs and raise hatchlings even when the eggs are exchanged during incubation period. Therefore, just the same results as transporting individual birds are available by replacing the fertilized eggs brought from another facility.
Transportation by railway

When transporting, fertilized eggs at the late stage of development are placed in a portable egg incubator (small egg incubator for transportation) and transported using railways.
Because developing fertilized eggs may stop growing due to shaking and vibrating, during transportation, the incubator is placed on the lap and carefully handled to avoid shaking or vibration as much as possible.

Identification of individuals in the wild

Leg bands that wild oriental white storks are put

Leg bands (colored ones) are attachd to released birds and fledgelings in the wild for individual identification.
The color pattern of the leg band is unique to each individual bird. This makes it possible to obtain basic information about the wild storks, such as home range and their status in pair formation, which is useful for grasping the progress of our reintroduction projects. The state of affairs that almost all of the birds are individually identifiable is rare for reintroduced populations in the world.
IPPM-OWS provides leg bands to local governments that have stork nestlings to be banded in the wild and rents an operation vehicle indispensable for banding at a height over 10m, as needed.

Implementation of training

Training for capturing nestlings

IPPM-OWS conducts training in various occasions to improve the skill of all member of the organizations concerned.
The training menu conducted until now includes those on captive breeding (e.g. handling of egg incubator), on capturing individual birds, and on putting leg bands on wild storks.