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After the Cyclone, Myanmar Battles 50 Year Rat Problem

Sometimes the news is so bad and so removed from your daily experience that the only thing you feel capable of doing is making sure people know. So here it is: after being decimated by Cyclone Nargis this Spring Myanmar is suffering through a protracted natural disaster that the government had 50 years to prevent. 50 years.

Called the maudam, twice a century the region's bamboo flowers produce a fruit that attracts rats. Hoards upon hoards of rats. Beyond the obvious squeamishness associated, the effect is even greater and long lasting. The rats consume all of villagers' food before turning to the seeds for the crops, ensuring that recovery is lengthy verging on impossible. The last three instances of the maudam, in 1862, 1911 and 1958, were all followed by devastating famine.


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To see what the experience is like,

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One villager says this of the current catastrophe, "Last year during the harvest the rats came and ate almost all our rice. Our corn has also been totally destroyed. I have just one bag of rice left for my family. After that there's nothing. People in my village are going into the jungle to find wild vegetables, like leaves and roots to mix with a little rice. Our situation is desperate." A local Human Rights Organization estimates as many as 200 villages are affected by severe food shortages and at least 100,000 people, or 20 percent of the local population, are in dire need of food aid.

Waiting for that aid to arrive isn't possible for some, and the exodus to India is underway. "We love our native land. But we don't know how we can survive here any longer."

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Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 7 years
wow - they just can't catch a break huh? first the cyclone and then the impending infestation - it's hard! i think that we all look back and say 'why didn't they take precautions' especially since they knew that the flowers would attract the rats -but i guess when you're in a culture and place like that - you don't always have the means to make a change. i hope that they are able to combat this infestation and learn for the next time - so they can avoid famine and preserve their food so that the population won't suffer.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 7 years
That they should HAVE to consider eating something as filth-ridden as a rat when the useless government had 50 years to prevent this is just so goddamned sick.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 7 years
UGH. I'm afraid to look at any of the pictures for fear of seeing tons of rats.
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
How awful.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
I mean, they were predicting it, not that they were reporting on it happening, I don't mean to make it sound like CS is slow to report it!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Awww I read about this a while back in Vanity Fair I think. So sad.
MindayH MindayH 7 years
ugh. that is horrible.
em1282 em1282 7 years
I'm guessing the rats are still considered a last resort type of food for the people there, but if you get desperate enough you will eat anything. This is awful.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 7 years
I don't see why not Caterpillar...
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 7 years
Terrible. :(
Marni7 Marni7 7 years
horrible
Jude-C Jude-C 7 years
Wooooow.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
can you eat the rats?
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