Environment fund targets rats
By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-03 06:10
XI'AN: Rat infestations that have been severely threatening the ecological
environment in Qinghai will be tackled with a special 7.5 billion yuan (US$925
The money from the central government will also be used for a range of
projects, including water conservation and the relocation of farmers as part of
an ecological protection drive in the inland province in Northwest China.
It will help protect the wetlands in the province, which are the highest and
largest in the world, according to sources with Qinghai provincial government.
The local government and residents will make joint efforts to fight the rat
infestations, which have been a major problem in the giant Sanjiangyuan Nature
Reserve for several years.
The Sanjiangyuan area, located by the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with a total area
of 363,000 square-kilometres, is where China's three major rivers the Yangtze
River, the Yellow River and the Lancang River are originated.
Since the early 1990s, rat colonies have destroyed large areas of grassland
in the region, which exacerbated the deterioration of the ecological
Official statistics show that 6.44 million hectares of grassland, 33 per cent
of the total useable in the Sanjiangyuan region, have been damaged by rodents.
In some counties in the region, up to 70 per cent of grassland has been
harmed by rats.
"The rat disaster in the Sanjiangyuan region is huge, with the population of
rodents increasing sharply," said Sanzhi Caidan, an engineer with Qinghai
Provincial Grassland Protection Station.
Sanzhi Caidan said that the rats not only eat grass leaves and roots, but
also dig holes and turn up soil, which turns the grassland into wasteland.
Ban Duo, a herdsman living in the region's Guoluo Tibet Autonomous
Prefecture, said that the dry weather, number of rats and desertification in
recent years had decreased his husbandry production, causing his family great
According to local pest control experts and technicians, efforts made to kill
the rats in the past few years were unsuccessful because the rodents have strong
migrant and reproduction abilities.
Poison used to kill the rats have gradually made them resistant to the
chemicals, but, more importantly, ended up killing the rats' natural predators.
Experts suggest more efforts should be made to develop better poisons or
methods which can kill the rodents, but not harm other animals and the
At the same time, ecological deterioration has also been caused in the region
as a result of global warming and the impact of human activities in recent
"By the end of 2010, a number of protection projects will be completed,
including reducing husbandry on grassland, rodent pest control, soil and water
conservation, and the relocation of farmers and herdsmen for ecological
protection," said Chen Shiqing, deputy director of Qinghai Agriculture and
(China Daily 03/03/2006 page3)