Ecological rodent management
Rodent pests are amongst the most under-estimated pests in African (and globally). Resource poor smallholder farmers are often most impacted due to a lack of resources and limited pest control and management options. A recent review indicated that crop losses due to rodents in African-Malagasy small holder farmers, averaged around 15%, but can range up to 100% during outbreak years. As such, finding ecological and sustainable solutions to rodent pests for smallholder farmers is important for food as well as financial security. It is important to remember that smallholder farmers are still the backbone of food production in many parts of Africa.
In this project we work alongside University of Venda and serval other African Universities to promote ecologically based rodent management. Our approach is multi-facetted, ranging from local control methods to biological control. Predation is a key component in our repertoire of control methods. While previous research has shown that rural agricultural matrix has a rich diversity of small mammalian and avian rodent predators, most of these species are culturally loathed and face heavy persecution. One key component of this project is an education program aimed at schools and smallholder farmers. We specifically focus on the ecological role of predators, as well as the traditional-cultural uses and importance of these species. The program is demonstration based, and we assist several key small holder farmers (farming champions) to implement control methods that will act as demonstration for other smallholder farmers.