What is microfibre? Japanese government investigates after ‘threat to wildlife’

After three endangered Nara deer went missing last month, local authorities implemented plans to harvest the endangered species to feed to porcupines and other parts of their endangered ecosystem. The Japanese government has now released the results of a study on bags made from a plastic material called microfibre.

Microfibre is a plastic material, polypropylene, that absorbs up to 8% more carbon dioxide per square metre than plastic. It can be spun into yarn using a machine that cuts the yarn into individual garments or cups. It is also far more similar to the natural materials that are the main food source for endangered deer.

While the Japanese government was aware of the dangers of harvestting protected wildlife, it is not yet clear whether any amount of microfibre will create more damage than the pure fur that the deer produce.

To determine the risks to the deer, researchers put four patches of the material in large fabric that had been tested by Nara Municipal Government. They also placed a webcam in the animal’s den where you can watch deer eat bags of the recycled microfibre and search for signs of the Nara deer. The results are covered by CNN and Quartz.

A local performer demonstrates “bait materials” that are used to remove Nara deer from their special pens. Photo: CNET/YouTube

In a video of a woman playing the part of an Nara deer’s temptress, scientists share the white garments that fill the female’s cavity. They also explain how a tamagotchi type of device will test the animal’s patience and depression levels. All signs of stress are recorded on a “bait pad” that is placed near the den.

The Japanese government still doesn’t know how successful the project will be, but microfibre bags make the study less risky because, unlike traditional plastic, the microfibre is “deer friendly”.

Here is CNN:

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