Meles anakuma 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Meles anakuma
Species Authority: Temminck, 1844
Common Name(s):
English Japanese Badger
Meles meles subspecies anakuma Temminck, 1844
Taxonomic Notes: Meles had been considered as a single species but divided into three groups of subspecies: "meles" (all Europe eastwards to the Volga River, Caucasus and southern parts of Middle Asia), "arenarius-leptorhychus" (eastwards from the Volga River, Ural Mountains and Siberia), and "amurensis-anakuma" (Prymorie, Korea and Japan). Japan is the eastern extreme of Meles distribution and Kawamura et al. (1989, 1991) reported that fossils of M. m. anakuma were excavated from the layer of the Late Middle Pleistocene in southern Japan. It is considered that they migrated along a southeasterly route through the Korean Peninsula, the is based on their absence on Hokkaido Island and their occurrence on the other three main islands. Mitochondrial (Kurose et al. 2001; Marmi et al. 2006) and nuclear (Sato et al. 2003) phylogenetic analyses suggest substantial differences between the continental and Japanese taxa.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Kaneko, Y. & Sasaki, H.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern in light of presumed large populations, occurrence in a number of protected areas, and is not declining at a rate which would qualify for listing at this time. In the last 25 years the geographic range has been shrinking however, the population as a whole does not appear to be threatened. There is a need for increased monitoring and study.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to Japan, where it is found on Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku (Wilson and Reeder, 2005), and Shodoshima but no other small islands. The Environmental Agency of Japan (1979) reported that there were many in Fukui (Honshu), Miyazaki and Oita (Kyushu) but less in Ibaraki, Osaka, Chiba and Tokyo (Honshu) prefectures. Kurose et al (2001) suggest that genetic distances among Japanese populations were much smaller than the continental one. Nowadays the badger’s distribution is declining.
Countries occurrence:
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In 2003, the Ministry of the Environment reported in a National survey on the Natural Environment that badger geographic range was obviously shrinking in 45 of 46 prefectures compared to 1978 survey, especially in Nara and Chiba (Honshu) prefectures while only one prefecture (Ehime in Shikoku) reported increase. Recorded area is about 29% of country (about 126,000 km²) and 7% reduction in last 25 years.

It is classified as a "game species" in Japan, although numbers hunted each year have been declining from 7,000 individuals per year in the 1970s to less than 2,000 individuals in late 1980s, though this might be caused by a loss of interest in badgers as game animals (Y. Kaneko pers. comm. 2006). Although present scientific surveys are not sufficient to define population trends or density, it was estimated as 4 adults/km² in Tokyo suburb from seven years capture-recapture result.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Although the ecology of the Japanese badger is one of the least studied in Japan, several scientific surveys were conducted in three typical habitats in Honshu; evergreen broad-leaved forest in Yamaguchi, subalpine conifer plantation in Nagano (Mt. Nyugasa) and conifer plantation/countryside mosaic in Tokyo suburb (Hinode-town).

Body size, Life cycle and reproduction
One of differeces between Japanese badgers to European species is body size. In total body length in adults (over 2 years old), 78.7±4.9 cm in males and 72.0±2.3 cm in females (Tokyo Kaneko et al. 1996) are far shorter than M. meles, more smaller badgers were recorded in south evergreen forest population (66.8±2.7 cm in males and 60.4±2.4 cm in females, Yamaguch, Tanaka 2002). Abramov (2005) reported Japanese badgers’ downsizing of the skull accompanied by a decrease of sexual size dimorphism (except in canine size) in comparison to the continental species.

Body weight (April-July period) has much variation between individuals as well as seasons, 7.7±1.3 kg in males and 5.4±0.8 kg in females in Tokyo (Kaneko and Maruyama 2002), 5.7±0.4 kg in males and 4.4±0.6 kg in females in Yamaguchi (Tanaka 2002).

Female’s parturition is from 2 years of age and on mid-April in Tokyo, mid-March to April in Yamaguchi, average litter size of 2.5±1.2 cubs (1-4 cubs in range, Kaneko 2001) and 2.3 cubs in Yamaguchi (Tanaka 2002). Copulation is from April, just after parturition in April and blastocysts delayed implant until February (Kaneko 2001). Tanaka (2002) reported badgers are nocturnal, as well as their activity almost ceased in January and February, badgers remained in their setts most of the time with about 3 degree lower body temperature, is likely hibernation.

Food, home range and cover
Japanese badgers feed on earthworms from spring and autumn in sub-alpine zone (Yamamoto 1991, 1995), ever green forest (Tanaka 2002) and Tokyo suburb (Hinode-town, Kaneko 2001; Kaneko et al. 2006). Badgers are also known to eat other items with worms; berries and beetles in summer in all three habitats and switched worms to persimmon (tree fruit) in autumn Tokyo suburb. Nowadays in Japan, old and new land use types are mixed because of rapid growth and development by building new residential area.

Social structure
Unlike European badgers, there are no male-female bond for rearing cubs by direct observation in Tokyo suburb (Ito 1992) as well as both female and male adult badger home ranges were solitary in Yamaguchi (Tanaka 2001). It seemed that male badgers is solitary but construct a temporary bond with one or several females only in mating season. In mating season in Tokyo suburb (Kaneko et al. in prep)and Yamaguchi (Tanaka et al. 2002), male badgers extend their range overlapped with 2-3 females. Tanaka suggest intra-sexual territoriality in Yamaguchi population, may differ from large social group or pair in European badgers. Scent marking in Japanese badgers in Tokyo suburb (Kaneko in prep.), the border latrines may be effective sources of information about badger presence and oestrus status in low density populations because there are few opportunities for badgers to encounter each other and no badgers met at latrines.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Japanese badger population and distribution has been shrinking over the last 30 years, mainly due to intensive development and agriculture (Y. Kaneko pers. comm. 2006). In addition, there is a threat from the invasive carnivore raccoon (Procyon lotor) (Y. Kaneko pers. comm. 2006). Radio-tracking data from a Tokyo suburb showed that a breeding female was not allowed to use her breeding site in a year a raccoon was present in its home range (Y. Kaneko pers. comm. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Badgers are designated in local Red Data Lists in 11 out of 46 prefectures: Vulnerable (VU): Hyogo; Near Threatened (NT or C): Chiba, Kagawa, Tokyo, Oita, Okayama, Osaka and Yamaguchi; Data Deficient (DD): Aichi, Gunma, Tochigi.

Citation: Kaneko, Y. & Sasaki, H. 2008. Meles anakuma. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136242A4264298. . Downloaded on 30 May 2016.
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