CHANGSHA, June 17 (Xinhuanet) -- The rising water level in China's second largest freshwater Dongting Lake, in the central Hunan Province, since late May has driven a massive field rats migration from their living islets to the southern cropland, bringing about the
area's gravest rat crisis in the last ten years.
The rats rampantly nibbled the roots and stems of the
crops, making thousands of hectares of farmland useless.
The climate in the Dongting basin is temperate and
rainfall is plentiful. The alluvial plain around the lake makes it one of
China's major rice and cotton bases.
People used to see the pleasing harvest of the early
season rice and smell the luring scents of melons in June; yet what the Xinhua
reporter saw in the Nangang Village of Yuanjiang City's Chapanzhou Township was
large areas of sapless rice.
Walking on the field ridges, one can always see a
flock of ratsleaping up from the weeds. The farmers had to leave their own
workand kept driving the rats away with wooden sticks.
But their efforts seem next to futile. The rats
teased the people by walloping from one hollow to another, which are thickly
dotted on the rice land.
"A great number of field rats which lived on the
islets of Dongting Lake migrated to the farmland due to the rising water level
of the lake. The rats live on the roots and stems of grass and crop and the rice
seedlings are delicacies to them," said WangYong, a researcher at Chinese
Academy of Sciences.
According to the township's vegetation protection
station, there are about 300 to 500 rats in each mu (0.067 hectare) of the
farmland. In some cropland, the number could exceed 1000.
"Our family has three mu (0.2 hectare) of early rice.
In the past each mu could produce more than 400 kilograms of rice, but this year
we may gain nothing," said Zhang Guocai, farmer of the township's Suhutou
Village with a bitter look on his face.
Villager Wu Chuanxi ground his teeth when mentioning
the rats, "we have nearly three mu of paddy but one third were destroyed by the
rats within a few days. The rats are just like robbers."
The seven mu (0.47 hectare) of early rice grown by
villager NieQiulin was ravaged by the rats and less than one third was left.
"Countless rats rushed to raid my rice land. They
crazily nibbled the crop. Some even can not find the place to lay their feet and
just stayed on the back of others," said Nie, who recalled the scene to be
The latest statistics from Chapanzhou Township said
about 20,000 mu (1333 hectares) of farmland were hit by the rats, in which 1500
mu (100 hectares) were completely destroyed and will end in fruitlessness.
"Some other crops like pumpkins, water melons, cotton
and aspenseedlings are also involved in the terrible disaster," said Liu
Guoteng, vice secretary of Yuanjiang City Committee.
The official said the rats have ravaged 65,000 mu
(4333 hectares) of farmland in the city, including 32,000 mu (2133 hectares) of
early rice, which will soon be harvested.
The rats calamity has already pervaded the city's 40
villages of six townships.
At the same time, the Datonghu District and Ziyang
District of the city of Yiyang also reported suffering from a massive rat
Ye Rennan, vice director of the agricultural and
water resources bureau of Datonghu District, said more than 30,000 mu (2000
hectares) of farmland was "visited by the rats."
The local vegetation protection station said in some
places every square meter can see ten to fifteen rats, which means 6000 rats per
mu (0.067 hectare).
More than 100,000 mu (about 6666.7 hectares) of
farmland to thesouth of the Dongting Lake was ravaged by the rats this summer
andChinese Academy of Sciences Researcher Wang Yong said it is the most serious
rat calamity in this area since 1995.
The local government had taken some actions in order
to bring the disaster under control but the situation still seems to be
Xinhua reporters saw the officials counting the tails
of rats in the government of Shapanzhou Township. An official said the farmers
handed in more than 1000 rat tails in two days and for each one they could get
0.2 yuan (two cents) pay.
Governments of all levels in the area are trying
every method possible to eliminate the rats.
Shapanzhou Township has already allocated 170,000
yuan (about 20,556 US dollars) in a fight against the rampant rats. The
costlyactions have already made it difficult for some governments to make ends
Experts said that the field rats reproduced at
tremendous speeds on the islets of Dongting Lake in recent years due to its
long-time low water level. Along with the rising water, more rats will invade
the nearby farmland.
When the water level returns to its lower state,
there will emerge another massive migration back to the islets, which is
alsoprobable to form a calamity, the experts said.
Wang said the governments of all levels around the
Dongting Lake should establish a regular monitoring and reporting system onthe
At the same time, experts are also warning the local
epidemic prevention departments to be highly alert of the possible
epidemicdiseases coming with the rat calamity. Enditem