There are three deer in Nara Prefecture, Japan — each with a name. Their names are Goni, Todomu and Toyohiko. These deer were planted here in 1982. And that’s why all three deer are called dinosaur tooth — their teeth are hundreds of years old.
But there are differences between these three deer and other populations in Japan. Their diets are different. Because of that, one of these deer in Japan is going extinct.
A video released by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday shows a land-clearing operation in Nara Prefecture that aims to remove these trees and other vegetation that is suppressing the deer.
You can think of this as a two-for-one solution. When this two-for-one solution is complete, the area of deforested land will be returned to forested areas. This will give the endangered deer who live here a better chance of survival.
You might think that Japan is the only country that’s trying to feed this endangered deer by using an edible alternative for the plastic bags used in many of their daily routines.
Yet “bo cherubino” (meaning “cured by a bo cherubino”) is already being used in Peru, where they grow the wild boar used in traditional products like beer, according to the New York Times.
Around two weeks ago, the South American country’s Environment Ministry announced it would double the amount of soy-based fishing line they use as alternative to plastic fishing line in the northern-most regions.
Conservation International reported in a report in September that around 26 million tons of commercial fishing line are dumped into the ocean every year. For every pound of fish these fishing lines catch, they kill 20 pound of marine life.
And this can also be part of the reason a Japanese man who was caught in a dispute over wanting to eat a slaughtered deer was killed by a hunter, according to Newsweek.
The hunter involved said the victim was killing the deer to eat it but did not know how to butcher the animal. He also said the deer was very fresh.
But, according to the story, there was a vegan restaurant in Nara Prefecture that was the victim of media reports who try to open a vegan restaurant in the area. It happens a lot in Japan. The meat industry tries to undermine or prevent this as they do not want any competition.
About these deer in Japan, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun notes: “This type of grazing is known as montane spring fauna (MFS), in which native mammals are grazed as a herd. Aside from protecting MFS herds against poaching, they help the animals to get away from domestic grazing animals. The mammals then could thrive and the number of forested areas in a protected area can be increased.”
According to United Nations Environment Program, it has become a political issue in Japan to protect and maintain the MFS herds. “Just like with the ancient sediments in coral reefs, biodiversity is at risk of being lost in the course of [the use of] used plastics,” said Raimund Hirzebart of the UNEP.
The use of plastic bags has been an issue in Japan recently, where it is being mentioned more and more in local government media outlets. Japan will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and many athletes and officials from various countries will be staying in Japan during the Games.
Now, thanks to an edible, plastic bag alternative, this indigenous deer could be introduced at the Olympics this summer.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, animal rescue organizations, wildlife experts and the Hiroshima Prefectural Government have issued public statements and taken on government responsibility.
Todomu is not the only Japanese deer that’s facing extinction. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, there are still three deer in the region of Nara Prefecture who have the same name.
They have other names because there are others that are like them — or are just called “dino” teeth — who are called deer, as they were also created from bone fossils. They all have different tooth species, a nod to the deer’s varied diets.