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​Alex's infamous rat infestation has a new foe – owls, which prey on the rodents. The Owl Box project has nesting sites for the birds in the township.
A TROUBLESOME rat infestation in Alexandra maybe thwarted by forces from above after the City and EcoSolutions installed a series of owl nesting and release boxes in three schools.

The Owl Box projectThe Owl Box project is launching in Alex“The City and EcoSolutions have been working with three schools in Alexandra, namely Zenzeleni Primary, Iputheng Primary and Minerva Secondary, for the introduction of the owl project,” said a City’s spokesperson, Nkosinathi Nkabinde.

Called the Owl Box, the pilot project will be launched on Friday, 16 March at Three Square Sports complex. The community, including schools and learners, will be taught how owls are important for eradicating unwanted rodents.

“The project will also educate the locals on the myths and beliefs on witchcraft in relation to owls,” said Nkabinde. A selected team of schoolchildren will feed the owls for 21 days with food provided by EcoSolutions to encourage community participation in the project.

“Prevention is, however, the best solution for rat control. We have to eliminate the conditions in which the rodents thrive and [for that] we need the active co-operation of everyone,” he said.

People in Alexandra should avoid using poison, such as pellets, as a pest control to kill the rats. “Should an owl eat a poisoned rat, the poison will have the same effect on the owl,” he said.

However, a poison called Racumin, which would not affect owls could be used instead to kill rats. Nkabinde pointed out that illegal dumping and careless disposal of food and waste material were the primary causes of rodent infestation.

“Illegal dumping attracts rodents and provides them with a comfortable environment to nest and continue breeding.” Residents could contribute to efforts to rid the township of rats by taking a number of practical steps:

Household waste should be put in plastic bags and placed in waste containers provided by Pikitup;

Dirty dishwater containing scraps of food should not be poured into catch pits or open spaces;

Open spaces, vacant lands and parks should be kept free of rubble, which provides a fertile environment for rats; and

Buildings should be rat-proofed to prevent rodents from gaining access, and all holes in exterior walls should be closed off.

The public can report any public health nuisance that may contribute to rodent breeding to the City’s environmental health department on 011 582 1533. Operators will be dispatched to assist.


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