9 The youth people coreprate planting the cotton.Predicting natural disasters that could happen in the future is not easy. However, this is something that the Karen elders have practiced to prepare themselves in order to resist disasters. Not everyone has this kind of knowledge – only those who are interested in learning it from the elders.

The local people say that predicting disasters mainly depends on observing a variety of animals or plants. They said that this is because every plant and animals species understands what is going to happen, and they show different signs.

 

The Karen indigenous people remember and memorize the character of animals and plants, changes of color in animals, the flowering times of different trees, the way animals build their nests or houses, and so on. They have experienced what happens when the actions or characters of plants and animals change. Therefore, by looking at the signs displayed by plants and animals, the Karen elders can predict what kind of disaster could happen in a few months, in a few years, or further in the future.

Predicting caterpillar invasions

Before an invasion of caterpillars, the elders say that there will be cloudy days for many months. The temperature will increase, and people will feel very hot during that time. However, there will be no rain. After this kind of weather happens, an invasion of caterpillars will soon follow. Some people say that if a lot of the leaves of stem vegetables and big trees are eaten by caterpillars, then an invasion of caterpillars will follow after six or seven months.

Predicting plagues of rats

A plague of rats is another disaster that can cause food shortages for the Karen people. The Karen people say that these rats are not from the local area. They come from very far away. When a plague of rats happens, the rat population can number up to millions of millions. The rats can eat up the whole crop yield in a night. Before a plague of rats happens, the elders say that the bamboo forests will blossom and become hung with bamboo seeds. People say that the bamboo seeds or fruits are very delicious and when the rats eat them, they can breed and grow quickly.

Predicting plagues of rats

A plague of rats is another disaster that can cause food shortages for the Karen people. The Karen people say that these rats are not from the local area. They come from very far away. When a plague of rats happens, the rat population can number up to millions of millions. The rats can eat up the whole crop yield in a night. Before a plague of rats happens, the elders say that the bamboo forests will blossom and become hung with bamboo seeds. People say that the bamboo seeds or fruits are very delicious and when the rats eat them, they can breed and grow quickly.

Predicting storms, floods, and landslides

According to local Karen people, the character or strange actions of animals can predict whether there will be more or less rain. If the ants at a river site make their nests on the higher parts of the trees, there will be a flood in that year. If they build their nests on the lower parts of the trees, there will be no flood. However, if they build their nests on the branches close to the trunk, then there will be a strong wind or storm.

Some people also say that if a lot of bamboo culms fall on their backs, then there will be a drought. If they fall in a prone position, then there will be more rain in the rainy season, resulting in flooding. However, if there is not a big difference between the number of bamboo culms that fall on their backs and on their fronts, there will be neither excessive rain nor drought. The weather will be harmonious.

The elders also say that if lizards turn red, then it means that there will rain and floods. Some people say that if a fig tree gives fruit mostly at the top of the tree, they believe that there will be more rain at the end of the year. If the tree gives fruit mostly at the foot of the tree, there will be more rain at the beginning of the year. If it gives fruit mostly in the middle part of the tree, then there will be more rain in the middle of rainy season, usually from June to August.

Other disasters

When wild animals accidentally enter a village, especially animals such as deer, boa constrictors, and pythons, the Karen elders say that people should not kill them and eat them. Otherwise, the village will face disasters.

The elders also believe that if a bush that looks like a rainbow drops a lot of leaves on the ground, either in the morning or in the evening, some kind of disaster will definitely happen in that area.