Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

African researchers show the world how to stop rats through developing ecologically-based rodent management (#4)

Steven R. Belmain 1 , Seth Eiseb 2 , Steve Goodman 3 4 , Themb’alilahlwa A.M. Mahlaba 5 , Rhodes H. Makundi 6 , Emil von Maltitz 7 , Apia W. Massawe 6 , Ara Monadjem 5 , Loth S. Mulungu 6 , Voahangy L. Soarimalala 4 , Lourens Swanepoel 8 , Peter J. Taylor 8
  1. Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, KENT, United Kingdom
  2. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
  3. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois , United States of America
  4. Association Vahatra, Antananarivo , Madagascar
  5. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni, Swaziland
  6. Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
  7. Plant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa
  8. Centre for Invasion Biology, School of Mathematical & Natural Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa

The StopRats project carried out many EBRM studies. As examples, research on the evaluation of contraceptives on the fertility of Mastomys natalensis as well as the role of domestic predators on the foraging behaviour of pest rodents will be presented. M. natalensis were fed bait containing steroid hormones (quinestrol and levonorgestrel) at three concentrations (10, 50, 100 ppm) for seven days. Significant interaction effects of treatment and sex were observed (F16,392 = 10.007, p < 0.001), with higher acceptance of treated bait by females compared to males. Treatments significantly reduced the weight of male rat testes, epididymis and seminal vesicles with sperm concentration and motility also reduced. Although there were no significant differences in the weight of female rat uteri and ovaries, high rates of uterine oedema were observed among treated female rats. Trials with mate pairing showed there were significant differences (F2, 86 = 3.28, p = 0.0423) in pregnancy (p < 0.05). With respect to foraging behaviour, we tested whether the presence of domestic cats and/or dogs in rural homesteads would affect the foraging behaviour of pest rodents.  We estimated giving up densities (GUDs) from established feeding patches at 40 homesteads across four agricultural communities.  We found that the presence of cats and dogs at the same homestead significantly reduced activity and increased GUDs of pest rodent species. However, if only cats or dogs alone were present at the homestead there was no observed difference in rodent foraging activity in comparison to homesteads with no cats or dogs.