Around 150 members of the Banmati Farmers Group in Sukoharjo, Central Java, have taken up arms against a rat infestation that has destroyed 20 hectares of paddy crops and caused tens of millions of rupiah in losses.
The local population of rice-field rats, which usually affect only a small volume of crops, has recently seen a sudden surge into the thousands and destroyed the farmers’ entire crop.
Armed with long wooden sticks, gasoline and water to flush the rodents from their nests, the farmers held an “extermination” contest on Jan. 19 to rid the local rice farms of the pests. The district head pledged Rp 1,000 for each rat caught, while trophies were given to the teams that caught the largest number of rats.
The farmers caught 508 rats in just a few hours, although it is likely that thousands more remain among the tall grass and other vegetation around the farms. They believe that the overpopulation of rats is very likely due to a decline in the rodents’ natural predators, primarily snakes and owls.[kes]