Skip to Content

Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

User avatar
DinkyBird
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 43529
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:54 pm
Location: The Beautiful Cape

Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by DinkyBird » Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:01 am

An interesting piece written in response to discussions on Facebook, and an article in a local newspaper:

As member of the Animal Utilization and Care Committee (AUCC) of SANParks and person volunteering his services to SANParks at many levels especially that of pest management and poisoning intervention, I regard it as my duty to respond to your article that appeared in Beeld today.

The black rat Rattus rattus is one of the ten worst invasive species on earth that has invaded all continents and nearly all islands. It is a species known to decimate human food resources especially grains, contaminate human, companion animal and farm animal food resources with its urine and faeces causing severe salmonellosis, damage infrastructure such as electric and information technology cables, carry fleas that are vectors for amongst others bubonic and pneumonic plague and impact on indigenous rodent fauna, birds by nest predation and displacing indigenous fauna by its sheer numbers. The KNP is one of the places where rats are a menace while the house mouse Mus musculus is an occasional problem but not nowhere near the magnitude of the black rat.

SANParks as one of South Africa’s principal custodians of biodiversity and supporter of major ecotourism has a duty of care for: (1) indigenous biodiversity and (2) safety and health of the local and international guests who visit parks such as KNP. The black rat is a problematic invader that can develop into a major challenge for indigenous biodiversity and for the tourism sector of KNP hence KNP’s team of profession al scientists (including natural scientists and veterinarians) mandate to implement management plans for such an invasive mammal. Since I have been involved in the AUCC SANParks have had policies and procedures in place of managing invasive species (including plants, birds and mammals) as well as problem animals such as vervet monkeys and baboons. The management plans for invasive species often include the use of certain pesticides (including insecticides, rodenticides and herbicides) that have been rigorously evaluated both from a hazard and risk perspective. I am part of a team currently reviewing all pest management and we are looking at all management tools in an integrated pest management approach. This may include pesticides that have been approved by SANParks for use in the different parks under their jurisdiction. Such pesticides have to be registered under Act 36/1947 and may only be used for target species as indicated by the labels of such products.

In terms of rodenticides is it a fact that these products are highly toxic to mammals otherwise they would have served no purpose. It is also true that a large percentage of the rodenticides are highly hazardous to birds if they ingest (highly unlikely) the baits. It is furthermore true that some of them are also hazardous in terms of secondary poisoning of both mammals and birds that may scavenge on dead rats of catch rats that have begun displaying the symptoms of the rodenticides. However, there are some of the active ingredients that are highly hazardous to mammals and virtually non-hazardous to birds such as owls. Secondly is it important to note that such rodenticides pose an extremely low risk to owls and other birds should they consume rats that have ingested such. I don’t have to time to fully explain the difference between risk and hazard in this communication as it is a topic that warrants more than a full day course in toxicological risk and hazard assessment. However, it must be note that the products allowed rodent control in KNP are of very low risk to owls and the method of application also minimize the risk of primary poisoning of indigenous rodents.

The comment made by the person referred to in the article that he knows of no rodenticide that will poison owls is evident of a lack of knowledge, understanding and ability to evaluate toxicological data of pesticides. There are definitely rodenticides that pose NO risk to birds. Again, I cannot offer all the details in a short communication especially to individuals who are not versed in toxicology. It is a pity though, that he made such statements and tarnished the image of SANParks by uninformed and false statements. Furthermore is it highly questionable how a visitor who does not live in the KNP can assess the situation with squirrels and suggest that squirrels have disappeared because of the use of rodenticides. Animal ecology is a topic that cannot be assessed by one quick look at a scenario. If the rodenticides killed squirrels I would like to see the records and reports of such dead animals.

The individuals in SANParks dealing with pest management policies are ecologists, veterinarians and myself – I believe we have efficient training, knowledge and experience to draft policies and procedures to maintain a high level of responsible rodent management and management of other invasive species.

Suggestions that owl boxes should be erected in the KNP to lure owls in to manage the rodents is against ecological principles in a protected natural environment. Owls of different species are present all of the KNP and one cannot disturb the ecological balance and processes that are in place in KNP by trying to attract more owls to camps. It is extremely unlikely that owls will only predate on black rats – the nature of the black rat is unlikely to make it a primary target for the owls while indigenous rodents will fall prey. It is also highly unlikely that cage traps and snap traps will be successful in exterminating black rats as they develop trap shyness rapidly. The correct placement of selected rodenticides are highly effective with a zero of near-zero effect on indigenous fauna. SANParks have an obligation under the Convention on Biodiversity to conserve SA’s indigenous wildlife; if that means targeting invasive species with management protocols the SANPArks are executing their mandate. Rodents have for example been exterminated islands by use of rodenticides that are compatible with birds – no bird mortality was observed.

Gehard Verdoorn

נשׁר בן‏-גבנ
DR GERHARD H VERDOORN: DIRECTOR
GRIFFON POISON INFORMATION CENTRE
Sawubona
Dalene

User avatar
barryels
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6911
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Pretoria, SA

Re: Poisoning of rats in Kruger

Unread post by barryels » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:39 pm

Thank you for the information Dinkybird :thumbs_up: .

User avatar
Elsa
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 12125
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Re: Poisoning of rats in Kruger

Unread post by Elsa » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:26 pm

Very interestihng info and a fine balancing act to protect all the species.

User avatar
Crested Val
Forum Assistant
Forum Assistant
FAC Member (2015)
Posts: 7051
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:49 am
Location: Brecon Beacons National Park

Re: Poisoning of rats in Kruger

Unread post by Crested Val » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:57 pm

Thanks for posting...............interesting reading. :thumbs_up:

stefan9
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:03 pm

Re: Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by stefan9 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:15 pm

Thank you for the information. Can't agree with the use of poison in a national park but thank you for at least providing some answers.
31 March - 3 April 2016 Berg n Dal Done
July 2017 Lower Sabie 3 nights and Talamati 3 nights

Hippotragus
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1957
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:15 pm
Location: Kyalami, South Africa.

Re: Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by Hippotragus » Sun Sep 25, 2016 7:02 am

Very interesting and informative article. Thank you Gehard Verdoorn and DB. It is a difficult situation, but SANParks are handling it well.
Malelane 12th October 2016
Skukuza 16th October 2016
Lower Sabie 17th October 2016
Skukuza 2nd-5th March 2017
Satara 5th-8th March 2017
Tamboti 8th-11th March 2017

User avatar
PNF
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
FAC Member (2015)
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:09 pm
Location: In the heart of the Waterberg; Deep in Limpopo

Re: Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by PNF » Sun Sep 25, 2016 8:42 am

Fascinating article and very good to know that a potential problem is being dealt with.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
Benjamin Franklin

Madalla
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:46 pm
Location: Wrong end of N4

Re: Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by Madalla » Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:37 pm

Thank you for the information, Gerhard.
Can you please place a photo of the black rat and explain how we can distiguish it from other rats.
No thought can live in your mind rent free. Prov 4:23

User avatar
Elsa
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 12125
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Re: Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by Elsa » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:00 am

Hopefully this will help Madalla

Black Rat

Hippotragus
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1957
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:15 pm
Location: Kyalami, South Africa.

Re: Pest management & poisoning intervention - KNP

Unread post by Hippotragus » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:51 am

Thank you Elsa!
Malelane 12th October 2016
Skukuza 16th October 2016
Lower Sabie 17th October 2016
Skukuza 2nd-5th March 2017
Satara 5th-8th March 2017
Tamboti 8th-11th March 2017


Return to “Science and Research in SANParks”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Webcam Highlights

Addo
Submitted by Anonymous at 07:49:07
orpen
Submitted by Ton&Herma at 20:36:27
satara
Submitted by jobi at 04:51:47
nossob
Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 05:13:27