Warning: This Strategy was developed end of 2010-2011. Email-addresses of persons in this outline are no longer valid, people have retired or are eeven dead. At that time they were named as stepping stones to find the pieces to address this global challenge. Prof Rudy Rabbinge was as that time willing to pass it to the WHO, but I never got a response.
Rats are respected animals in numerous places in India. They appear to consume the astronomous amount of 20 Megatonnes of rice annually. Approximately 67000 km2 is required to feed these “holy rats”. These rats consume rice which can feed 220,000,000 Indian people! The estimate is based on an annual production of 3000 kg of rice per (China: 5000 kg). This loss is in the order of the unnecessary BSE measures of the EU which account for the destruction 16 Megatonnes animal material (equivalent to 19 Megatonnes of soy for animal feeding) without saving a single life . Together they account for a loss of about 38 billion dollar and a high claim on nature ‘s resources (rain forest, fresh water supplies) and global heating.
Why cannot we permanently solve this no longer Indian problem but a threat to mankind and earth? Saving money and resources to tackle other problems: One requires only e.g. $ 5,000,000,000 per year to stop malaria. The expected spin-off of this programme may even wipe out malaria at low costs.
In most countries one is allowed to kill rats without mercy, but we want to respect Indian religion and may make a step forward to respect other than human lifes. This will put an additional challenge to come with animal friendly solutions. Besides, rats should get more credit They have an excellent smell and can save our lives by detecting tuberculosis, explosives and mines (e.g. Afghanistan), illegal import at airports being low costs intelligent pets/biosensors.
The strategy development for animal friendly dealing with pests has spin-off to many areas including malaria, dengue and yellow fever.
First round of idea generation:
I Stop or slow down reproduction
If one is not allowed to kill the rats, one has to prevent consumption of the rice (traditional approach in combination with extinction) or prevent multiplification of the animals . Non-multiplying rats will consume less rice and will age and will be consumed by predators.
The Dutch company Organon has successfully developed the human hormone-based anticonception pill birth control. . The rat is one of their most studied laboratory animals. It should not be too difficult to calculate the estrogen dose in bait to stop reproduction for a number of months. Expert
The American Chemical Society reports the use of a gonadotropin releasing hormone to sterilise deer, wild horses, dogs and prairydogs for the mating season. It is a global problem. Ukrain, e.g., is in need for an animal friendly control of streetdogs.
II How to get the rat to the bait and not other animals?
Rats have an extremely well developed smell. Specific rat attractors can be pheromones. Suggested contact for assessing the feasibility (selection and production) of pheromones are Paul and Mark Davis, Mologic, Sharnbrook, UK (
III How to prevent rats from continuing eating from the bait and to allow other rats to eat from the bait?
One may consider designing a trap, which can release the rat after consumption of the bait. The design of the trap should also prevent other animals (mice, roaches, even ants) coming in reducing the maintenance costs of the system. One may consider a mechanic system to release the rats to let them in or get them out. One may also consider to chase the rats after consumption using an unpleasant sensation light (input from Mr. Rajendran: rats do not like intense light) or sound. Spin-off: Traps for bisam rats, which undermine the dikes. Their organic meat is delicious like the treat Cuj (guinea pigs) in Ecuador.
Prof.dr. Merel Ritskes (Animal testing), Radboud University (Nijmegen) (
Dr. Jith John, Veterinary, Trivandrim, Kerala
IV How to develop a specific sustainable trap without bait attracting other pests? One can replace bait by a controlled slow release system of attractive flavours/pheromones and anti-conception hormones/chemical castration. Rats receive dose via tongue, get hungry and leave. Additional advantage: Reduces trap size. Additional useful names (to help identify participants): Dr. Saskia Galema, (
PS Edible biodegradable porous plastic containing the active ingredients (rotating cocktails preventing resistance built-up) may allow spread as confetti (humane Agent Orange) by aeroplanes and be applied to wipe out also other diseases like Dengue and malaria. Personal former contact: John Wesseling, PhD Nijmegen University who worked on the inhibition of the life cycle of the malaria parasite in the mosquito. Prof. Robert Sauerwein, Parasitology (Nijmegen) has just demonstrated that chloroquine simultaneous with infection can provide immunity in humans. Similar control routes can be applied to develop immunity in mosquitos. Remco.Suer (Wageningen University) has demonstrated that mosquitos are attracted by bacterial metabolites of human foot sweat next to carbon dioxide. Mosquitos may subsequently also be inactivated by biological agents (Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis, mould spores).
After talking with Dr. Coen Dechering (formerly MSD) in August 2011, he started Trop-IQ in January 2012 to fight the parasite in the mosquitos considering means like anticonception.
Dr. Rhys Jones, Purac Gorinchem (
Michael Nieuwesteeg (Dutch Packaging Centre, Gouda) may have useful names in active (preferably biodegradable) packaging
V Parallel Route: How to make rice transiently unsuitable for consumption for rats? Incorporate transient unpleasant taste component, examples:
- Volatile e.g. essential, which evaporates or breaks down during heat process
- Bitter or pungent compound, which can be degraded in downstream-processing
Engineer plant via classical breeding using the biodiversity of traits in varieties or mutagenesis or employ targeted plant biotechnology.
Potential useful contacts Plant Biotechnology: Dr. Arjen van Tunen, CEO Keygene, Wageningen (
Spin-off to other areas:
- Wild boar plague in Dutch National Park: Pheromone based traps + chemical castraton (Prof. Rob Meloen)
- Muskrat plague in Dutch dykes: Animal friendly traps plus export to Belgium (delciatesse meat)
- Dengue, yellow fever: Vehicle of viruses: the mosquito Aedis aegypti; Infection with bacterium Wolbachia stops transmission of dengue;
- Pheromones and birth control for geese, a plague for farmers in the Netherlands
My apologies if I forget many other possible experts in these fields. I have limited myself to the experts and industries, who I know can do the job and hope they will find their way to all the missing pieces involving the necessary people. Nearly all knowledge is somewhere in the world, we need just the right connectors.