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Bamboo protein causes super-rat plague

In the Indian state of Mizoram, squeezed in between Burma and Bangladesh, famine threatens. The bamboo plant Melocanna baccifera, that covers a considerable amount of the state, blooms and then dies out. Protein-rich seeds are then spread all over, waiting to be eaten and that protein has an anabolic effect. At least in rats. [New Zealand Herald April 01, 2008]

Rats get stronger if they eat the bamboo protein. A female that eats bamboo protein can have a litter of as many as thirteen young, and can be pregnant again three months after giving birth. The local population also believes that the protein stimulates the rats' mating desire.

Bamboo protein causes super-rat plague
When the bamboo seeds are finished, the army of overgrown rats goes in search of food, stripping fields and food stores bare.

According to local stories, during the last period that the bamboo seeds lay strewn in the jungle, some rats grew to monstrous proportions. These rats are called Chawmnu. According to the stories they grow as big as small pigs, and they lead the rat armies out of the jungle when they attack human settlements.

According to the 83-year-old C. Rokhuma, a local rat expert, one of these big rats was captured in Diltlang village in 1977. [UNI April 26 2006] "The Chawmnu rat has a white spot on its forehead and the tail is usually white. In the earlier famines during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, Chawmnu rats had caused the maximum destruction."

Cryptozoologists biologists that search for undiscovered species of animals do not know for sure whether the Chawmnu are ordinary rats that have grown to such gigantic proportions through a diet containing the anabolic bamboo protein. They have suggested that the Chawmnu may be an unknown species. [ 5 mei 2007]

The phenomenon of bamboo death is officially referred to as mautam and it occurs in fifty-year cycles. The last time the bamboo died, in 1958-1959, the authorities regarded the villagers' stories about rat plagues as a fable and acted too late. In the famine that followed hundreds of people died.

"The rats would wipe out three to four hectares of paddy cropland in one night", an elder, T. Chaltanga, recounted in an interview with the BBC. "We would see our crop standing the night before but next day it would all be gone, eaten away by the rats."

After the famine a rebellion broke out against the government, which lasted twenty years.

There are references in archives to similar disasters in 1862 and 1911, and both occurred after the bamboo bloomed and died.

Last year it became clear that a repeat of the 1958-1959 disaster was in the making. [Telegraph 07/05/2007] The government has supplied traps, sent soldiers to the affected area and offered a reward for each rat that is killed. The reward for each dead Chawmnu is a thousand times higher than the prize for a normal rat.