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Making their routine rounds in the mountains of Amami-Oshima Island, which lies roughly halfway between Okinawa and Kyushu, Shintaro Abe and Masahiro Nishi are relieved every time they find evidence their hard work is paying off: rabbit droppings.

Abe, 49, is in charge of the Environment Ministry Naha Nature Conservation Office’s mongoose eradication campaign, while Nishi, 41, is one of Abe’s team of “mongoose busters.” An increasing amount of droppings from the island’s native Amami rabbits is a good indicator that the number of mongooses, their natural predator, has decreased.

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