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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Of Rats, Cats and Dogs

The rats at Bukit Batok have been hogging the headlines for the past week. The authorities and pest controllers have been blaming the people there for the infestation. It seems the people have been feeding the stray dogs and the leftover food have attracted the rats which it seems is enjoying life there. Of course the people who are feeding the dogs are denying that the problem was caused by them..

The way I see it, the rat problem at Bukit Batok is the same as the monkey problem at Bukit Timah, the stray dogs problem at Punggol and other places and the crow problem at food centres. What they have in common is that all these are caused by us human. 

Like the monkey problem, we human have encroached into their territory. While that would have ordinarily driven them further into the remaining forest, we human decided to feed them. And when the monkey got used to human food and human presence, they start to move into our area and the conflict with human then begin.

Ditto the stray dogs problem. Most of these dogs are the offspring of previous house pet kept by people living in farms and kampungs. When these people were resettled into HDB flat which does not permit keeping of large dogs, the dogs were abandon and left to fend for themselves, Left alone, the dogs starts to hunt and breed and become progressively aggressive as they fight to survive.

The cats have the same problem. But fortunately for the cats, there are many cat lovers who feed the cats daily. So all the cats need to do daily is to sleep and eat.

Which brings me to the rats and crows. What has these got to do with the monkeys, dogs and cats. I believe in the theory of the survival of the fittest. My theory is this:
  • Human feeds the monkey, stray dogs and cats.
  • The monkey, dogs and cats become well fed and indirectly "domesticated". Because they are well fed, they lost their ability to forage and hunt and with more time on their hand, they end up doing what comes naturally to all living beings - reproduce.
  • So we end up with 2 new problems - growing population of monkeys, stray dogs and cats
  • And the growth of pests like the rats, crows and cockroaches. Why? Because the dogs and cats are well fed, they no longer need to hunt. Here in Singapore, there is not much other creatures down the pecking order below the dogs and cats excepts the birds, rats and  cockroaches. And since the dogs and cats are not eating these pests, they are allowed to breed with no natural prey to curb their population. 
  • Compound that with the indiscriminate feeding of the strays with leftover not removed which means a steady stream of food source for these pests, what we have is a blooming growth in the population of rats, cockroaches and even crows and bingo, problem like those at Bukit Batok!

Nature has its own way of dealing with problem. But when human steps in and upset the eco system, what we get is nature goes haywire. And we see it everywhere all over the world - leopards going into villages, snakes creeping up toilet bowls, locust infestation, 

The way to deal with the rat problem after the pest control has done it job? Stop feeding the stray dogs and cats. Certainly the weaker animals will die. But the stronger animals will be forced to hunt. And when they start hunting, they will have less time to mate. Which means less strays. And they will also eat up the pests which will help to control the population of rats and crows and other pests. And over time, everything will balance out. 

Just take a look at this video. This is what I mean when we allow Mother Nature to do its job.

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