Did the black rats bring Marlon Brando? Or did Marlon Brando bring black rats?
we will never know. According to Wired, they both arrived at Tetiaroa Atoll, a remote 3.7-square-mile island in French Polynesia at about the same time.
But now that the great Brando is dead, he has left behind a modest-sized village built on the island just years after filming 1962’s “Mutty on the Bounty”—and where thousands of rats are thriving.
Brando Family Trust spokeswoman Sally Esposito told Wired that there are 65,000 rats on Tetiaro Atoll.
Now, members of a group called Island Conservation think they have a solution to ratty infiltration: drones. Specially engineered drones will fly over the island and carpet the place, from sea to sea, with pellets of poison. As put by Wired: “The donation will implement the world’s first scalable, heavy-duty drone operation to deter invasive rats.”
Territorial rodents have decimated the population of birds and tortoises there – using their small, sharp teeth, rats like to gnaw on eggs and flies as well as reptiles – and it is providing a fair amount of nutrients. Contributes to the loss of nearby coral reefs.
In short, the rats on the island behave exactly as you’d think they would once they gained the upper hand.
However, the conservation group’s approach to thinning the rodent herd is highly regarded.
“We have been looking at drone technology for many years with the idea that it can dramatically reduce costs and democratize island restoration by allowing local experts to be able to fly them. [by] Using precise automated processes, David Will, innovation program manager at Island Conservation, told the publication.
This isn’t the first attempt at killing pesky predators. A 2012 attempt – using an unknown technique that could have simply been poisoned people – failed as the islanders lost what appeared to be a zero-sum game: if not 100 percent of the rats were destroyed. If done, the infection will return in short order. According to research, a pregnant rat can occupy an island of 4 square miles in just two years.
With that in mind, it’s clear that time is of the essence when it comes to destroying a rat swarm.
“The species is going extinct at a rapid rate,” Will said, referring to birds and reptiles, which are similar gourmet fare to the island’s rats. “We know that if we don’t do something, the species will go extinct.”
Hopefully, that won’t happen. And, if things go according to plan, the last rat, weakened by poison, may echo a set of Brando’s most iconic lines: “I could have been a contender. I could have been someone else instead of a bum. I face who I am.”