PARIS: It all started with a video shot late last year on the banks of the Seine, between the Musee d’Orsay and Pont Royal bridge in the French capital.
The video, which has gone viral around the world since first being posted by the daily Le Parisien, shows garbage collectors discovering with horror dozens of hungry rats crawling at the bottom of a garbage bin.
The footage kicked off a controversy over the “proliferation” of rats in Paris, and the deplorable working conditions of the city’s garbage collectors.
There are now between 4 and 6 million rats in Paris, according to different sources. “But in reality, it’s impossible to know precisely how many of them there are,” says Georges Salines, who heads of the city’s environmental health service.
“Their number varies according to the amount of food available and their living conditions.
“Rats are complex social animals that can stabilise their population according to vital resources. That’s why I think it’s wrong to talk about a proliferation of rats in our city. Despite the appearances, their population remains stable.”
And yet, for several months now, in the early morning or as soon as night falls, alone or in small groups, rats seems to be more abundant and less and less fearful.