Rat plague has broken out in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China's top grazing ground. The outbreak is attributed to prolonged drought. As much as ten per cent of the pastoral areas are affected, Xinhua news agency reports.
Zhang Zhuoran, chief of vegetation conservation section of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Prairie Affairs Station, said there were 62.87 million hectares of exploitable pasture in the region, and six million hectares were overrun with rats.
There were outbreaks of rat plague in the Hulun Buir and Xilin Gol prefectural leagues, the two main prairies in northeastern Inner Mongolia, with 1.4 million ha of pastoral areas affected.
The worst hit is Xin Barag Right Banner, a county-level area that falls under the jurisdiction of Hulun Buir Prefectural League.
Local prairie affairs station monitors indicate that 40 percent of Xin Barag Right Banner's pastureland is infested. There were 977 rodent holes on an average for each hectare, but at most, there were 1,600 holes.
Zhang blamed a severe drought caused by minimal rainfall in Hulun Buir for the rat plague outbreak in larger pastoral areas.
He said the autonomous regional government had set aside a special fund equivalent to 285,714 U.S. dollars for rat control efforts that still largely relied on scattering poison via planes.
The rat control efforts were expected to end by early next month.