Rodent menace

The plague of Samar Island

Published: Wednesday 31 May 2000

A huge population of rats has infested 15 northern towns of the Samar Island in the Pacific and the main culprit is deforestation. According to officials from the department of environment and natural resources-Region 8 (DENR 8), destruction of forests has led to this crisis.

Manager of the Samar Island Biodiversity Project George Guillermo said conversion of forests for agricultural use has displaced rat predators like birds, snakes, reptiles and other animals. This has resulted in a rampant growth of rat population in 15 of the 24 municipalities of the island.

Guillermo points out that deforestation has also eliminated the plants the rats used to feed on. "Naturally, the rats will look elsewhere for food," he said. The department of agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit-8 estimates that the rats have destroyed 6,300 bags of rice seedlings. This loss is alarming when one considers that 30,000 tonnes of rice could have been harvested had the seeds been planted.

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