The war in Afghanistan was sometimes described as the “forgotten war”, hence the nickname Afghanistan given to the cricketer Mark Waugh who was overshadowed by his more decorated twin brother Steve. Another neglected war was described in the Washington Post section of The Weekend Australian – this is the war with the weasels fought by the German car makers.
Apparently the stone marten weasel took to climbing inside German cars and eating plastic hoses and tubes. This became a serious insurance issue and it especially concerned German car makers who feared that the pest attacks might divert buyers to less edible foreign vehicles. Car parts are not part of their diet but the plastic components apparently drive the weasels into a rage.
The Germans were not prepared to lose another war to a bunch of weasels so Audi and Mercedes Benz hired a biologist in 1982. After field work on the weasel attacks he locked up luxury cars up in cages with weasels and filmed them ripping parts of the cars to shreds.
Moving on to prevention, sprays made from dog and bear urine did not work and more sophisticated strategies were required.
Then, Manfred Gutjahr, a senior research executive at Daimler, took Mr Kugelschafter’s research and launched the Manhattan Project of Germany’s weasel defence. His key legacy was the Weidenzaunprinzip, or “pasture fence principle”: an electric fence woven around the engine to zap the critters. In 1985, Mr Gutjahr and his team registered the first patent for a weasel defence system that remains the anti-weasel weapon of choice today.