View Full Version : THE FLYING CAT STORY

12-06-2016, 06:49 PM
Ecology is the science of the interactions of organisms in their natural environment. This field of study has developed over the past four decades since its genesis in the early 1960’s when an awareness of the large-scale impact of mankind’s activities on the environment first became apparent. The early ecologists emphasized the need to understand the myriad interconnections that link the various forms of life in even “simple” ecological settings such as a pond or desert area. Awareness of these interconnections, they often wrote, comes as a consequence of mankind’s interference in some aspect of these “food webs” that result in unforeseen negative outcomes. One of the most often-told events of this sort involves a situation in Borneo that has become famous not so much for how it illustrates the unintended disruption of closely linked organisms as for the bizarre nature of the solution proposed. A typical example is given below and found on the web.

“In the early 1950s, there was an outbreak of a serious disease called malaria amongst the Dayak people in Borneo. The World Health Organization tried to solve the problem. They sprayed large amounts of a chemical called DDT to kill the mosquitoes that carried the malaria. The mosquitoes died and there was less malaria. That was good. However, there were side effects. One of the first effects was that the roofs of people's houses began to fall down on their heads. It turned out that the DDT was also killing a parasitic wasp that ate thatch-eating caterpillars. Without the wasps to eat them, there were more and more thatch-eating caterpillars. Worse than that, the insects that died from being poisoned by DDT were eaten by gecko lizards, which were then eaten by cats. The cats started to die, the rats flourished, and the people were threatened by outbreaks of two new serious diseases carried by the rats, sylvatic plague and typhus. To cope with these problems, which it had itself created, the World Health Organization had to parachute live cats into Borneo.

Not exactly true