Animal Planet looks at Bamboo Flowers

MUMBAI: Animal Planet will air the show When The Bamboo Flowers. Normally a vital and versatile plant for villagers in northeast India, bamboo sets off cycles of famine and plague once every 48 years - a rare, yet ruinous occurrence for the local human population.

For rats, however, it's a feast for the ages - a colossal feeding that has beset the region for centuries leaving thousands of ravenous rats and widespread human deprivation in its wake. The show airs on 12 November at 9 pm and on 15 November at 8 pm

The show brings Animal Planet viewers to Mizoram, a rugged hill state in northeast India. It has been 48 years since the bamboo last flowered and villagers are anxiously preparing for the impending invasion. The strange phenomenon of the flowering of the bamboo is unique to northeast India, which is home to vast plantations of the tree-like plant.

After the massive cyclical flowering, the bamboo plants produce large amounts of seeds - a good food source for rats, which quadruple their reproduction rate while feeding. The explosion of the rat population results in quick exhaustion of the seeds, leading thousands of rodents to turn to standing crops of the agricultural villages. The result is a widespread famine and, more often than not, plague.

Back in 1958, famine led to nearly two decades of insurgency in the region and tens of thousands of people perished. Now, in 2006, the bamboo is flowering again and Animal Planet visits the villagers as they prepare for inevitable catastrophe, hoping this time that the outcome is different.

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