Research Support

Launch of the Environmental Enrichment Science

Project Gist

Connecting wild and captive animals, field and lab


wild animal, environment, hormonal analysis, DAN analysis, image analysis

Background and Purpose

Animals live in a broad range of environment from wild to captive conditions such as zoos. Even in the same species, their lives varies so much and it is not easy to understand their lives with the comparative methods. To address this challenge, we are trying to launch “environmental enrichment science” using a variety of research areas and methods. First, at the Wildlife Research Center’s research sites on Kojima Island and Yakushima Island, we are tackling this challenge by incorporating new research methods while making use of our accumulated knowledge of conventional research.

Project Achievements

Utilizing our research sites in Kojima and Yakushima, we conducted research using drones, image analysis using AI, and molecular biology methods using DNA and hormones. At the same time, we conducted research using similar methods in zoos. These new methods are more versatile than conventional ones and have the potential to be used uniformly in the wild and in captivity. One of the challenges for the future is to evaluate whether the environment they live in is desirable for the animals in the wild and in captivity, respectively.

Future Prospects

We will start new projects of feral horses at Cape Toimisaki and of endangered flying foxes at Kuchino-erabu Island with new research methods. Our challenge is to apply the results of our field research to animals in captivity, such as those in zoos.


Wildlife habitat in Yakushima Island photographed by drone (Kagoshima, Japan)
Observing feral horses in Cape Toi, Miyazaki, Japan

Principal Investigator


Wildlife Research Center
He is in charge of the Kojima and Yakushima field stations of Wildlife Research Center. He studied vocal and social behavior of Japanese macaques. Also, he has continued long-term monitoring of medium to large mammal population there.

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