• Okinawa Island, Japan
  • 29th September - 3rd October

  • I stayed for four days at a study centre deep in the tropical forest of Yanbaru, Okinawa, Japan. There was a huge variety of tropical rainforest wildlife such as butterflies, birds, reptiles and amphibians, many of them endemic to the island and highly endanged. There were many, many species of butterfly, including several different birdwings and also some day-flying moths:

    Common Rose Butterfly (Pachliopta aristolochiae) in Okinawa, Japan
    Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae)

    Milionia basalis moth in Okinawa, Japan
    Milionia basalis moth

    Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon) in Okinawa, Japan
    Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon)

    Pellucid Hawk Moth (Cephonodes hylas) in Okinawa, Japan
    Pellucid Hawk Moth (Cephonodes hylas)

    Chinese Peacock butterfly (Papilio bianor) in Okinawa, Japan
    Chinese Peacock (Papilio bianor)


    There were also some superb amphibians and reptiles living in the rainforest, including the five species shown below, all of which are endemic to Okinawa and the surrounding islands.

    Okinawa Tree Lizard (Japalura polygonata) eating a caterpillar in Okinawa, Japan
    Okinawa Tree Lizard (Japalura polygonata) eating a caterpillar

    Ryukyu Leaf Turtle (Geoemyda japonica) in Okinawa, Japan
    Highly endangered Ryukyu Leaf Turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

    Ryukyu Water Snake (Ampiesma pryeri) in Okinawa, Japan
    Ryukyu Water Snake (Ampiesma pryeri)

    Emerald Grasss Lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus) in Okinawa, Japan
    Emerald Grasss Lizard (Takydromus smaragdinus)

    Okinawan Habu Snake (Trimeresurus flavoviridis) in Okinawa, Japan
    Highly venomous Okinawan Habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis)


    Okinawa also has several endemic bird species, the most famous of which is the Okinawa Rail which was only officially 'discovered' in 1978 and at the last count had a population of only 720. The photo demonstrates one reason why there are so few.... they have a habit of running full-pelt across the roads which claims the lives of many each year despite the warning notices pasted all around the north of the island.

    Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus okinawae) running across the road in Okinawa, Japan
    Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus okinawae)

    Okinawa Rail warning sign, Okinawa, Japan