Tuesday, Feb. 02, 2010


Feb. 11 will mark the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison on Robben Island, the tiny piece of land just off South Africa's southwestern coast. Since 1997 the site has been a museum and World Heritage site frequented by thousands of tourists every year. But who really runs this place? The rabbits. A recent New York Times report revealed that up until last October, rabbits — probably brought to the island 300 years ago by Dutch explorers — have lived there unchecked, burrowing holes under buildings and depleting grassy areas. That's when Chris Wilke, a real-life version of cartoon bunny hunter Elmer Fudd, was hired to help tame the population — the female bunnies can have eight babies at least six times a year. So far, 5,300 rabbits have been killed and estimated 8,000 more will need to be exterminated. Perhaps when Wilke is done on Robben Island, he can meet with the Foundation for a Rabbit-Free Australia, where European rabbits have run amok for decades, causing millions of dollars in damage and threatening the country's delicate ecosystem.