Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 23rd, 2006
Mizoram is a state in northeastern India, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, of nearly 900,000 people, with the the second highest rate of literacy (88%) among all the states of India, after Kerala. Mizaram is also the home of the mysterious Shinlung who believe themselves to be ethnically Jewish, descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Reports out of Mizoram today are sweeping the state that giant "rat-like creatures" has been sighted there and have not been able to be captured yet.
Officials have offered cash rewards to local villagers who kill or capture alive the "big rat-like creatures" that have been stalking homes and vegetable gardens. Apparently there have been no takers to date.
"The sighting of such weird rat-like animals the size of a cat is a bad omen and signals the outbreak of a famine," Agriculture Minister H. Rammawi told the Indian media.
It is somewhat confusing as to what the identity of the animals are, as the media is stating that tribal locals "have reported sighting several big rats along with rodents, which have been invading paddy fields and vegetable gardens in the past two weeks."
"We are not sure if the big rats are actually rats or some unknown species. So we have offered cash rewards of Rs.1,000 to anybody who could get the animals dead or alive," said James Lalsianliana, an agriculture scientist with the Mizoram government.
The giant rodent-like animal has so far managed to evade traps set up by villagers.
Traditionally, in the area, invasions of rats have been tied to an indication that a famine may be on the way.
As the source article, “Rat-like Creature Triggers Famine Fears in Mizoram," May 22, 2006, in the Indian New Kerala News notes:
There is a saying in the tiny hill state bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh that when bamboo flowers, famine, death and destruction follow. Behind the superstition lies some scientific truth, as blooming bamboo can trigger an invasion of rats, which proceed to eat away food supplies.
“It is not a myth or any superstitious belief to think that bamboo flowering signals famine. It is a stark reality and we have experienced and witnessed an outbreak of famine in the past under similar circumstances,” Chief Minister Zoramthanga said.