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Old 04-06-2009, 06:40 AM   #1
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Default Operation Catdrop: An Altogether More Bizarre Approach To Tackling Invasive Species

Operation Catdrop: An Altogether More Bizarre Approach To Tackling Invasive Species
Thu, Apr 2, 2009
by Simone Preuss

Operation Catdrop: An Altogether More Bizarre Approach To Tackling Invasive Species
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The solution to the riddle of Operation Catdrop is a bit more complicated: malaria. The disease had broken out among the Dayak people, peaceful inhabitants of the Sarawak region of Borneo. The World Health Organziation heard about the malaria outbreak and decided to spray large amounts of the chemical DDT to kill the mosquitoes, known carriers of malaria. But the WHO had not accounted for the interconnectedness of the ecosystem.

At first, the mosquitoes died and the malaria cases decreased, so everyone thought the worst was over. But then people realized that the DDT had also killed useful insects, for example parasitic wasps that lived off thatch-eating caterpillars. Without the wasps, the caterpillars multiplied and ate the thatch from the roofs, causing the roofs to fall on people’s heads.

However, there was a far worse consequence. The insects that died from the DDT were eaten by bigger animals – lizards, for example, that in turn were eaten by cats. The cats started to die and as a result Borneo’s rat population flourished. This meant the potential outbreak of two other serious diseases carried by rats, the plague and typhus, for the Dayak people.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:05 PM   #2
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Oh what a tangled web we weave.
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