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food / travel

The Greatest Extermination Of Rats The World Has Ever Known



Located some 1,800 kilometers off the coast of South America, South Georgia Island has no permanent human residents – but millions of rats. The rodents first made their way to this south Atlantic island on whaling boats in the 18th century and, feeding on sea birds, proliferated quickly.

No one can say exactly how many million rats currently live on South Georgia, which is 167.4 km (104 miles) long and 37 km (23 miles) at its widest point. Whatever the figure, it’s too high in the view of the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) because of the danger the rats represent to the millions of birds who make this island their home. The rats feed on young birds and eggs.

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Millions of browns rats are proliferating on South Georgia - Photo: National Park Service

So the SGHT has embarked on a course to free the island of the rodents in what is the greatest extermination of rats the world has ever known.

In early 2013, helicopters are due to inundate parts of the island with grain bait containing two to six-and-a-half kilograms of brodifacoum per hectare. No one doubts the collateral damage of this action – including the deaths of some of the very birds the extermination aims to protect -- but the SGHT sees no alternatives as the rats will soon cover the entire island including areas that until now have been safe for birds.

Stefan Ziegler, a WWF biologist, told Süddeutsche Zeitung that from a natural conservation point of view he supports the planned action, but "the question is whether or not it will be successful. All you need is a couple of rats surviving and in a couple of years’ time you’re back where you started.”

Project leader Tony Martin of the University of Dundee says he and his team will consider the extermination a success if in two years’ time there is no sign of rats on the island. A trial conducted on a section of the island in the past year has so far proven successful.

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food / travel

British Museum Privilege? Behold Treasures Others Are Returning To Rightful Owners

The simmering UK-Greece dispute over the Elgin Marbles shines a light on the worldwide efforts to push Western powers, often with colonial pasts, to give back looted artistic and historical artifacts.

Photo of a visitor looking at the Elgin marbles also known as the Parthenon marbles, at the British Museum

The Elgin marbles, also known as the Parthenon marbles, at the British Museum

Spencer Hooker, Valeria Berghinz and Michelle Courtois

"If I told you [to] cut the Mona Lisa in half... do you think your viewers would appreciate the beauty of the painting?"

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the BBC earlier this week when asked about why the legendary Parthenon sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, should be returned to Greece in their entirety.

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The treasures, which are part of the frieze of the Parthenon temple in Athens, have been at the heart of a dispute between Greece and the United Kingdom since a British diplomat snatched them in the 19th century. They are on display at the British Museum in London.

Following the BBC interview, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak canceled a planned meeting with his Greek counterpart, which was to take place on Tuesday during Mitsotakis’s trip to London.

While the United Kingdom, and the British Museum in particular, continues to balk at the return of looted cultural artifacts, other Western powers — often with a colonial past — have been busy in recent years giving artifacts back to the country of origin.

Here's a look at some of the most notable cases around the world:

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