BEIJING — A plague of rats has gobbled up vast swathes of
grasslands in north China, sparking a mass extermination
drive amid concerns for herders, state media said Thursday.
proliferation has left holes across 65,000 kilometres
(25,000 square miles) of Inner Mongolia, making it difficult
for herders to ride their horses, whose hooves can get
caught, the official People's Daily newspaper said.
Authorities have launched a massive extermination drive,
with more than 1,000 tonnes of poison dumped over the
affected grasslands, an area the size of Sri Lanka, in an
effort to control the number of rats.
population explosion has been caused by a rise in
temperature since the start of May, as well as overgrazing,
which suits the rodents' natural habitat as they prefer to
live in shorter grasses, the report said.
number of predators, such as foxes, eagles and snakes, has
also dropped sharply in the grasslands, due in part to
pollution, particularly the large-scale use of pesticides,
Grasslands in Inner Mongolia have long been at risk of
desertification due to excessive farming, overgrazing and
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