The Indian market where rat earns top price

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Hindu devotees prepare treats for rats at the Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke near Bikaner, in the Indian state of Rajasthan on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on December 23, 2018 an Indian tea-tribe vendor sells cooked and uncooked rats at a weekly market in Kumarikata village along the Indo-Bhutan border, some 90km from Guwahati. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on December 23, 2018 an Indian tea-tribe vendor sells cooked and uncooked rats at a weekly market in Kumarikata village along the Indo-Bhutan border, some 90km from Guwahati. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on December 23, 2018 an Indian tea-tribe vendor sells cooked and uncooked rats at a weekly market in Kumarikata village along the Indo-Bhutan border, some 90km from Guwahati. (AFP)
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Rats drink from bowl of milk at the Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke near Bikaner, in the Indian state of Rajasthan on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2018

The Indian market where rat earns top price

  • The traps are placed at the entrance of the rat-holes in the evening and the rodents are caught as they come out to scavenge

KUMARIKATA, India: Freshly-caught rat is at the top of the holiday menu for crowds flocking to a market in northeastern India that specializes in rodents from local fields.
Destined to be boiled, skinned and then cooked in a spicy gravy, rat is more popular than chicken and pork with customers at the Sunday market in the village of Kumarikata in Assam state.
Shoppers buy hundreds of freshly caught and skinned rats that local farmers say are hunted to avoid damage to their fields in the state which borders Bhutan. The ready-roasted kind also goes down well. Rat has become a valuable source of income for the poor “Adivasi” tribal people who struggle to make ends meet working in Assam’s famed tea gardens.
In the winter months when tea picking slumbers, the Adivasis go to rice paddies to trap rats for the market. A kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of rat meat, which is considered a delicacy, sells for about 200 rupees ($2.8) — as much as for chicken and pork. Farmers say the region has seen growing numbers of rats in recent years. “We put traps in the fields as the rats eat people’s paddy,” Samba Soren, a rat vendor at Kumarikata, told AFP. The rodents are hunted at night during the harvesting season with traps made from bamboo. The traps are placed at the entrance of the rat-holes in the evening and the rodents are caught as they come out to scavenge.
The vendors have to work at night to make sure other predators do not get to the dead rats first. Some of the rats weigh more than a kilogramme and the market traders say they get between 10 and 20 kilogrammes a night.


Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

Updated 16 November 2019

Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

  • Wildlife ranger Craig Dickmann made a split-second decision to go fishing in a remote part of Northern Australia known as ‘croc country.’
  • ‘That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws’

CAIRNS, Australia: An Australian wildlife ranger has recounted his terrifying escape from the clutches of a “particularly cunning” crocodile, after wrestling with the reptile and sticking a finger in its eye.
Craig Dickmann, who made a split-second decision to go fishing last Sunday in a remote part of Northern Australia known as “croc country” last Sunday, said a 2.8-meter (nine-foot) crocodile came up from behind him as he was leaving the beach.
“As I’ve turned to go, the first thing I see is its head just come at me,” he told reporters on Friday from his hospital bed in the town of Cairns in Queensland state.
Dickmann said the animal latched on to his thigh.
“That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws,” he said.
The 54-year-old said he wrestled with the croc on the remote beach as it tried to drag him into the water.
Dickmann stuck his thumb into its eye, saying it was the only “soft spot” he found on the “bullet-proof” animal.
“Their eyes retract a fair way and when you go down far enough you can feel bone so I pushed as far as I possibly could and then it let go at that point,” Dickmann said.
After a few minutes, he said he managed to get on top of the croc and pin its jaws shut.
“And then, I think both the croc and I had a moment where we’re going, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Dickmann said he then pushed the croc away from him and it slid back into the water.
The ranger had skin ripped from his hands and legs in the ordeal and drove more than 45 minutes back to his home before calling emergency services.
It was then another hour in the car to meet the Royal Flying Doctors Service who flew him to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering from the ordeal.
“This croc was particularly cunning and particularly devious,” he said.
Queensland’s department of environment this week euthanized the animal.
“The area is known croc country and people in the area are reminded to always be crocwise,” the department said in a statement.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a ton, are common in the vast continent’s tropical north.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with attacks on humans rare.
According to the state government, the last non-fatal attack was in January 2018 in the Torres Strait while the last death was in October 2017 in Port Douglas.