Deadly Rat Invasion, Channel 5:
Once every 48 years in the remote Indian state of Mizoram, a strange phenomenon takes over the land, threatening famine and death. Hundreds of thousands of acres of bamboo begin to flower and fruit, sparking a huge plague of rats.
Drawn by the nutrient-rich pear-sized fruit that the bamboo produces, millions of hungry rats feast, their numbers growing exponentially as they descend into a reproductive frenzy. When the fruit runs out, this ‘rat flood’ moves from the forests to the farmland. There they devour crops, bringing hardship and even famine upon local farmers.
The locals call this biological anomaly the Mautam, and the famines it brought in 1862 and 1911 were recorded by the occupying British Raj. When Mautam last occurred in 1959, famine killed thousands and plunged the state into a 20-year guerrilla insurgency.
Now the Mautam is back, threatening disaster for local farmers but also offering a research goldmine for Dr Ken Aplin, a renowned rodent biologist. Though the Mautam directly affects the lives of over a million people in northeast India, the science of this abnormal event remains shrouded in mystery.