Barn owls part of Joburg’s R2.5m war on rats

2014-09-30 12:10

The City of Johannesburg has included barn owls in a R2.5 million plan to fight a rat infestation.

Owl boxes had been placed at four schools in Alexandra, each containing four owls, mayoral committee member for health Nonceba Molwele told reporters today.

Another owl box was placed at the Marlboro Gardens Combined School. Barn owls are the rodents’ natural predators.

“In recent years rodents have become a challenge in certain areas of Johannesburg, such as informal settlements and overcrowded buildings in the inner city,” she said.

Jonathan Haw from EcoSolutions said one owl could feed on many rats in a month. More than 83 000 owls had been released into various parts of Gauteng since 1998.

The New Age reported last month that a one-month-old baby in Alexandra had to go for reconstructive surgery after rats ate three of her fingers and part of her nose.

Molwele said the municipality had developed a plan to eradicate the problem.

“This strategy focuses on the effectiveness of biological and cultural control factors. The use of chemicals is only as and when needed and [will be kept to] a minimum.”

She said 28 400 rats were caught in Alexandra since a rat cage project was piloted in March 2012. It had since been expanded to all seven regions of the municipality.

“The City of Johannesburg is confident that we can beat the rats through our prevention and cleanup operations, but we need the participation and support of all residents to look after their own immediate environment.”

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