City of Cape Town launches new rat attack

Tammy Petersen, News24

Cape Town - A new, more labour intensive strategy is being rolled out to deal with rats running rampant in Khayelitsha.

The City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate this week announced it was moving away from block baiting and adopting a live catch approach as a rodent control strategy.

Mayoral committee member for health, Siyabulela Mamkeli, said block baiting was not having the desired impact in this area, although it had proved effective in other parts of the city.

"Khayelitsha is very densely populated and, unfortunately, education around effective waste management remains a challenge. As there continues to be an abundance of food waste that rats can feed on, rodents simply avoid the block baiting stations in spite of our increased roll-out," he said in a statement.

The new strategy sees Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers going door-to-door to create awareness and get the approval and buy-in of residents.

City Health issues baited rodent cages to participating households, carries out monitoring visits, records daily counts of rats caught by the cage traps, and maintains and repairs cages as necessary.

Workers also remove any rats that have been caught and reset the traps.

In the pilot phase in October last year, R180 000 was secured through ward allocations and 22 EPWP workers disposed of 4 500 rats.

With the most recent roll-out of the project, the City said nine wards had contributed R730 000 that would see the creation of at least 75 job opportunities while attempting to reduce the rodent population.

"Based on our past experiences in dealing with the problem, we felt that increasing the use of poison through block baiting is a risk and a waste unless all the alternative food sources for the rats are removed and they only have poison to feed on.

"This is an impossible task to achieve as a single department. The cages provide an alternative method which is poison-free and has a guaranteed catch rate."

By catching more adult rats, there is a greater possibility of reducing the rodent population in the area, Mamkeli pointed out.

"A female rat can give birth to as many as 1 000 offspring in a year. This method has proven successful, with as many as six rats caught in a single household in one day."