Oriental White Stork Preservation

This majestic creature, the Oriental White Stork, dances through the skies once again.

What is the Oriental White Stork?

The Oriental White Stork, commonly known as ‘kounotori’ in Japan, is a large stork that is at the apex of the wetland food chain. They are carnivorous and feed on small creatures such as fish, frogs, snakes, grasshoppers, etc. They are large feeders and eat approximately 500g per day in captivity.

Scientific Name
Ciconia boyciana
Common Name (Japanese)
Common Name (English)
Oriental White Stork
Up to 4-5kg
Avg. 1.1m
Avg. 2m

Preserving a National Natural Treasure

How one city is saving the Oriental White Stork from extinction

Fulfilling a Promise

To save the Oriental White Stork from complete extinction, we first had to capture the last remaining ones and raise them in captivity. When we did, we made a promise to them “We will, one day, bring you back to the wild.” In order to fulfill our promise we are taking every step possible to ensure their return to the wild will be successful.

Reintroduction of the Oriental White Stork into the Wild

The Oriental White Stork once lived in the wild in Japan. In 1971, the last wild Oriental White Stork disappeared from the skies of Japan. Toyooka City in Hyogo Prefecture created a breeding and research facility to begin breeding and raising them in captivity. In 2005, they were successfully reintroduced into the wild for the first time. Currently, about 350 Oriental White Storks fly grandly in the skies of Toyooka. We continue to preserve their habitat.

This Toyooka City project, to reintroduce the Oriental White Storks, is a unique and notable project with international recognition.
The countless hours, great efforts and expenditure put into the revival of the Oriental White Stork by Toyooka City has brought these once extinct storks back to live in coexistence with humans in a place they once inhabited.

A Supportive Environment - Habitat Preservation

A supportive environment is essential for the Oriental White Stork to be successful in the wild. They are at the top of Japan’s natural ecosystem food chain, so their environment must support the animals they feed on as well. Ideal locations are undeveloped woodlands near populated areas, rice paddies, rivers, and water ways. Along with a supportive natural environment, it is also necessary to have a strong cultural environment conducive to the Oriental White Stork. Human lifestyles and values were a notable factor that contributed to the near extinction of the species in the past.

In Toyooka, work has been done to preserve and create an optimal wetland environment that will become their permanent habitat. There are currently more than 6 of these habitats in the Toyooka area. They include Hachigoro Toshima Wetland, Kaya Wetland, Maruyama River, Tai Wetland, Rice Paddy Biotope, Lower Maruyama River, and surrounding rice paddies.

Hyogo Park for the Oriental White Stork

A research institute opened in 1999 in Toyooka City and is dedicated to the restoration of the Oriental White Stork. At the park’s open cage you can see Oriental White Stork that have been bred and raised in captivity. Entrance to the park is free.

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Hachigoro Toshima Wetland

Hachigoro Toshima Wetland is a maintained wetland named after the wild Oriental White Stork from mainland China called “Hachigoro” that likes to call this wetland home. Chicks have continuously hatched in the artificial nest tower set in the wetland since 2008.

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  • Kaya Wetland

    Various wetlands created from the nearby riverbeds of the Maruyama River and Izushi River.

  • Maruyama River

    Working with the flood management policy, many shallows are being created along the riverbed to promote the restoration of nature.

  • Tai Wetland

    People of Tai area, along with many researchers and other fundamental groups became involved in the preservation of the surrounding rice paddies to create this flourishing wetland.

  • Rice Paddy Biotope

    Unused rice fields are turned into biotopes and used as corridors for connecting wetlands, creating a greater feeding area for the Oriental White Stork.

  • Lower Maruyama River & Surrounding Rice Paddies

    Registered as a Ramsar Convention as an internationally important wetland in July 2012.

As the number of Oriental White Storks declines, there is an estimated 3,000 left, so we continue to pursue the conservation, restoration and establishment of environments, like the ones above, in which they can survive and thrive. We are also fulfilling our duty to the international conservation of species as the last habitat in Japan for the Oriental White Stork.