South Africa – Rodent control in informal settlements
Ekurhuleni gets tough on rats
Gas, rat cages, owl traps and drowning buckets are being used in a deadly, five-phase plan to wipe out the rats infesting Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.
The “integrated rodent control plan” is a collaboration between the local government, community and interest groups, said Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality spokesperson Zweli Dlamini.
Although the ridding of rodents on private property was primarily residents’ responsibility, the municipality believed that, if the region was to be rid of the problem, a collaborative effort would have to be forged, he said.
Residents were being asked to be on the look out for rats or mice “lurking around the yard, rodent burrows in the garden, the presence of tracks and rodent droppings, greasy trails on the walls or gnaw marks on any objects, he said.
People living in identified “rodent hot-spots” were being issued with rat cages and being visited by environmental health practitioners.
“They carry out inspections of premises, issue out notices where necessary, and then return for a second inspection to ensure that residents have complied – failing which the perpetrators are fined,” said Dlamini.
The first phase of the plan would involve establishing “inter-sectional collaboration committees” in participating wards.
“The second phase is identifying infested areas and factors which contribute to infestations in the wards, then baiting and trapping the rodents.”
The issuing of rat cages in hot spots like Tembisa, Thokoza, Katlehong and informal settlements had already proved useful, said Dlamini.
“A bucket method was piloted in Phomolong, Tembisa, which involves using a bucket half-filled with water and sunflower seeds to capture and drown the rats.
“The owl project has also been implemented in the Kathorus region,” he said.
The third phase of the project would focus on promoting environmentally healthy surroundings with community clean-up campaigns; the fourth phase would be a community education campaign and the fifth phase, enforcement of legislation, including the Environmental Conservation Act, Environmental Management Act, and public health and solid waste by-laws.
“We have gassed hundreds of thousands of rodents in the past, but the problem is not going away due to other factors mainly illegal dumping,” said Dlamini.
Dealing with illegal dumping in the area would eliminate the “biggest contributing factor to the growing rat problem,” added the municipality’s environmental development executive director Mandla Sithole.