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The wildlife of Japan includes its flora, fauna and natural habitats. The islands of Japan stretch a long distance from north to south and cover a wide range of climatic zones. This results in a high diversity of wildlife despite Japan's isolation from the mainland of Asia. In the north of the country, there are many subarctic species which have colonized Japan from the north. In the south there are south-east Asian species, typical of tropical regions. Between these areas lies the temperate zone which shares many species with China and Korea. Japan also has many endemic species that are found nowhere else.
About 130 species of land mammal occur in Japan. The largest of these are the two bears. The Ussuri brown bear (Ursus arctos) is found in Hokkaidō where it plays an important role in the culture of the Ainu people. The Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus) inhabits mountainous areas in Honshū, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Smaller carnivores include the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and Japanese marten (Martes melampus). There are two wild cats in Japan: the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) of mainland Asia occurs on Tsushima Island while the Iriomote cat (Prionailurus iriomotensis) is unique to the island of Iriomote.
Grazing mammals include the sika deer (Cervus nippon), Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). Among Japan's most famous mammals is the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), the world's most northerly monkey.
Marine mammals include the dugong (Dugong dugon), finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaeniodes) and Steller's sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus).
Over 600 species of bird have been recorded in Japan and more than 250 of these breed. A number of birds are endemic including the Japanese woodpecker (Picus awokera), copper pheasant (Syrmaticus soemmerringii) and Japan's national bird, the green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor). Several species are unique to the smaller islands including the Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae), Izu thrush (Turdus celanops) and Bonin white-eye (Apalopteron familiare ). Most of the non-endemic birds are shared with China but a few originate in Siberia or south-east Asia.
Large numbers of migrant birds pass through Japan in spring and autumn including many waders. In winter, several sites are important for swans, geese and cranes.
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