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Rodent specialist reviews rodent situation in state
Published on 6 Dec. 2008 1:20 AM IST
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Renowned scientist in India as well and a recipient of FAO, Rome Award on rodent management Dr. A.M.K. Mohan Rao, Rodent specialist visited Nagaland from November 25 to 29 for assessment of rodent situation as a consultant from the ministry of agriculture, New Delhi. According to an official release, during his visit, Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Chumben Murry highlighted the plight of the farmers particularly in Peren district. Several meetings were also held with the top officials of Forests, officials. Information was collected from Forest, Nagaland Bamboo Mission and Agriculture department. Field visits and interactions with the affected villagers were held for Dungki, Lamhai, Deukoram, old Jalukie on November 27 where the villagers expressed their fears for the coming years and shortage of rice for consumption even for the coming festive season and requested for providing some rice supply to tide over the lean months. They also reported that they have started searching for jobs in the neighbouring villages. The field observations made in the harvested fields indicated that the damage belonged to forest dwelling rodents and also burrowing ones in the jhum fields. The estimate made on the damage to rice crop in two randomly selected fields indicated total tiller damage in jhum rice fields. However, in the foothills of Dimapur district, burrows of lesser bandicoot, Bandicota Bengalensis could be seen and its presence was confirmed after catching two lesser bandicoots and with the distribution of faecal pellets in the storage huts of the villages. It was informed that most of the crops except ginger suffered rodent damage. Hence cultivation of ginger or medicinal plants might reduce rodent related losses. Mizoram state was already implementing this system and it was understood that the results were positive. During the field visit, an attempt was made to identify the rodent pest species observed and collected at Old Jalukie village, Peren district. Similarly, in Hetoi village of Dimapur district, lesser bandicoot was collected. As per this attempt white bellied rats, Niviventer niviventer mentosus and lesser bandicoot, bandicota bengalensis were identified as major rodent species in jhum fields causing enormous crop loss. The alarming part of observation during the current visit is on the spread of lesser bandicoot infestation in the foot hill areas of Dimapur district. Some of the option and recommendation of Dr. Rao for Rodent management, on the present scenario in Peren and Dimapur districts threw challenge on rodent management stated using owl or raptor predation at this stage would have bouncing affect since removal of part of the highly reproducing population would finally lead to further increase in prodigality. It would be the same case with using the local bamboo traps, which would remove part of the rodent population, leading to further stimulation in prodigality. Often Government resort for bounty payment system for rodent management by payment of money on production of rat tails. It is a worldwide accepted fact that bounty payment system would not yield desirable control success. In a fast reproducing population, if partial removal of population is resorted, it would lead to increase in productivity of the surviving populations. As such this system needed to be discouraged. It would work in specific time frame and specific locations in order to motivate the people to go for rodent control. Incentive for trap preparation would yield better results in long range and awareness of using traps at appropriate time of the crop season to be created. An official bulletin also stated that poison measure was one of the effective and feasible methods left over to reduce their numbers in short time. However, poisoning measures were likely to affect the non-target animals. While employing traps by the farming community in the initial stages of rice crop in forthcoming jhum/kharif rice crop, attempts are required to use poisoning measures with anticoagulants like 'bromadiolone or coumatetralyl' at community level. For the safety of non- target animals and sustained baiting, while using anticoagulant baits, it is desirable to use bait stations made with the hollow bamboo shoots. Since large-scale rodent control operations would be undertaken with the technical assistance of Department of Agriculture, awareness creation among the farming community should be made initially.

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