Enigma 976: This happy breed
10 January 2020
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From New Scientist #2131, 25th April 1998 [link]
At the end of 1991 the Society for the Protection of Our Obscure Furry Friends (SPOOFF) released a trial number of breeding pairs (born in March of that year) of the spotted tree-rat Sciurus maculatus incastus in the small forested island of Yorkiddin.
The result is a doubtful success. In 1997 they found that the island was being overrun: the local foresters were seeking compensation for damage and local rare species of birds were near extinction.
Tree-rats are born in March, and are driven from the patch of forest of their birth at the end of that year. They find a new patch, always of 2500 square metres, and immediately start breeding. They die in the fourth December of their lives. The society realised too late that every year each pair invariably produces 2 pairs of young, each of which incestuously produces 2 more pairs next year. In 1998 the number of pairs will reach nearly 6000.
The process will continue until the population reaches its limit at the beginning of 2000, when the whole forested area will have been partitioned into occupied territories.
What is the forested area in hectares? (One hectare is equal to 10,000 square metres).