Bryan Hays Photography
I am a Japanese pika (Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis) living in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. We have been living among boulders on talus slopes in mountain areas such as Daisetsu Mountain National Park, Japan's last wilderness, for thirty or forty thousand years. We originated in Siberia and, passing through Sakhalin, came to Hokkaido in the Ice Age on land bridges that had formed due to a drop in the sea level between Hokkaido Island and the Eurasian continent. After the end of the Ice Age, as it was getting warmer, we went upward to a higher part of the mountains for we can't live without cool, clean air. Since we have survived to the present day, we are called "Relics of the Ice Age."
Although we are classified as a different species from American pikas, our appearance and ecology are very similar to theirs. The biggest difference is we are in a critical situation because of timber cutting and the construction of roads and ski resorts while American pikas live peacefully. We are sensitive to automobile exhaust and have a low tolerance to heat; therefore, we emphasize that any more development in our habitat must be stopped even though such development may give human beings enormous conveniences.