1 Tahrcountry Musings: Now a Contraceptive Pill for Desert Rats

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Now a Contraceptive Pill for Desert Rats

For some time now exploding Gerbil population in their Xinjiang region has exasperated the Chinese officials. Gerbils have threatened the fragile desert ecosystem of Xinjiang. Only few plants can survive in this harsh and arid region. Ceaseless burrowing by Gerbils is destroying even this sparse vegetation.

Chinese authorities tried various options like traps and biological control. Predatory birds were introduced in the region. But the problem persisted. Forestry officials are now trying a new way to control Gerbils. They are using contraceptive pills. The pill is mixed with feeds and placed in strategic locations.

The pills prevent females from getting pregnant and cause abortion in those already pregnant. The Chinese authorities consider this to be much more humane option than poisoning Gerbils. The new experiment seems to be working. If it becomes a real success the authorities are planning to introduce the system in other areas also.

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