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PHNOM PENH: So many rats drowned in Cambodia’s worst flooding in over a decade that the cross-border trade in rodent meat plummeted, said Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday.
Hun Sen said Each year 17 tons (about 37,000 pounds) of rats are exported to Vietnam. This year there is a shortage of rats for export because the rats have died in the floods, he said, citing official reports from the southern Chrey Thom border checkpoint.
There are no clear figures on the scale of the industry, but rat meat is considered a cheap and tasty treat in Vietnam. The country is a keen importer of live rats from Cambodian villages along the border.
Ros Sothea, chief of Chrey Thom border checkpoint, told AFP he had no statistics on the impact of this year’s floods on the trade but he had noticed very few rats were being sold to Vietnam.
Almost no rats are being exported to Vietnam because the floods have killed them,” he said. “Last year, a lot of rats were exported.
This is Cambodia’s deadliest flood since 2000, which was triggered by heavy rains. The flood has also killed at least 247 . people and destroyed nearly 1/10th of the nation’s rice paddies.
There is good news for bamboo.
Every 48 years bamboo forests surrounding the towns there flower, fruit and die. The rats who live there, whose population is normally constrained by lack of resources, eat the fruit and and breed prodigiously. Their babies and their baby’s babies keep eating and breeding until there’s no fruit left—at which point starvation drives rats in a great swarm to devastate the rice crops in northern India.
The Mautam is a cyclic ecological phenomenon that occurs exactly every 48 years in the northeastern Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, 30% of which are covered by wild bamboo forests. Other affected areas are Hakha, Thantlang, Falam, Paletwa and Matupi in Burma creating a widespread famine.
The next Mautam is due in 2048.
Mad Mike’s American thanks Skip, the Malai Mail, and Aimee Lock Woo.
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