Cape Town tackles rats

Major rat problem in Khayelitsha

Cape Town is employing a new intensive strategy to eliminate rats in Khayelitsha, one of South Africa's poorest and most marginalised townships, where the rodent population is out of control.

The city's health department says it is abandoning poisoning in favour of catching the rats alive, arguing that as long as the rodents have access to abundant food waste there is no point in relying on baiting.

Located southeast of the city's Central Business District (CBD) on the Cape Flats, Khayelitsha is densely-populated and there is a lack of education about waste management in the area.

Under the new scheme, participating households are provided with baited rat cages, and officials visit each day to despose of the caged rodents, record the numbers caught, and reset the traps.

The city describes the new approach as "poison-free with a guaranteed catch rate" and says that up to six rats are being caught per household each day in Khayelitsha.

In recent years there have been reports about the area's “giant rats”, which are unafraid of traditional predators such as cats. It is estimated that there are four rats for every human in Cape Town.