Rat race: Desperate city offers cell phone for every 60 rats nabbed

Reuters/Krishnendu Halder
It’s probably the strangest bounty ever invented, but it seems desperate times call for desperate measures in the South African township of Alexandria. City officials are offering a mobile phone for every 60 rats caught.

­The bizarre new program is an attempt to rid Alexandria of a massive rat infestation in its streets.

The 100-year-old township has become a breeding ground for the little critters, with plenty of illegal dumping and sewage leakages.

Most of the rat action happens during the night, with reports of children’s limbs and fingers being gnawed on whilst sleeping, according to TheSouthAfrican.com.

While there’s no need to motivate potential bounty hunters to catch – and most likely kill – the wanted, it’s killing enough of the vermin that authorities are hoping for.

Although catching 60 rats is no mean feat in itself, authorities may not have thought through the logistics of people delivering such a quantity of rodents – dead or alive.

Also not entirely clear is what kind of mobile phone is on offer. The catch may be a big one, but one is unlikely to get the latest smartphone – even for a rat premium!

The initiative is bound to spark some outcry among animal rights groups, but it already seems to have taken off.

One resident told local media that he had already earned himself two phones, “I’m hoping I can get one for each member of my family.”