Crested ibises in Japan are facing less risk of extinction amid efforts to reintroduce the birds to the wild, leading the government to consider lowering its status on the list of threatened species, government sources said Saturday.

The crested ibis was classified as "Extinct in the Wild" on the Environment Ministry's Red List in 1998 after all five remaining wild ibises in Japan were captured in 1981. Since then, the species' rank has been the same for 20 years.

Extinct in the Wild is the Red List's second-highest rank after "Extinct" and means particular plants or animals only survive in captivity, cultivation or as a naturalized population outside their original habitat.