IT WAS immortalised by the novelist Alexandre Dumas as the location of buried treasure, in 'The Count of Monte Cristo', but the tiny Italian island of Montecristo is now struggling with a rather less romantic reality: a plague of black rats.
The rodents are believed to have arrived on the four-square-mile, uninhabited island as stowaways on boats, and since multiplied. Authorities are planning to use aircraft to bombard the island with poison pellets.
Some conservationists are worried that the pellets could accidentally land in the sea, killing fish and other marine life. But the authorities have dismissed those concerns. "The project will be managed by experts," said Franca Zanichelli, the director of the national park authority. (© Daily Telegraph, London)