It’s been reported in an African newspaper that rats are terrorising Mathendele Township. This is in Swaziland which is a small, landlocked monarchy in southern Africa known for its wilderness reserves and festivals showcasing traditional Swazi culture.
Residents of this township are complaining of a rat infestation which has caused havoc in a number of homesteads damaging valuable items and belongings. The rats are all over the township and have become a menace. Backyard gardens are being devastated and crops are being consumed by the rats. They are a threat to human beings as well as destroying property.
Poisons do not seem to be killing the rats. Vehicles are being damaged because the rats chew through cables and wiring systems. A representative for the township said that he was unaware of the problem. “I have not heard of such a complaint. If indeed this is true, we should come up with a plan.”
A journalist writing for a local newspaper claims that the lack of cats is one of the causes for the rat infestation. He says that people are eating cats and they are to blame.
“The reason the Mathendele community in Nhlangano [4th largest town in Swaziland] is troubled by rats which are now a menace is because there are now no cats as these pets are believed to be “good meat” to some people.
The cats which should be feasting on the rats are believed to be actually delicious meat the some of the people living in the township.
It is believed that some of the people including ‘foreigners’ eat cats hence there are now a few of them around, something which has resulted in the infestation of rats.
‘Tamed cats’ (domestic cats) have become scarce because they are eaten by some people here. I know foreign nationals who roast cats and eat them” Hanson Nkonyane.
He claims that the rats have taken advantage of the situation. The people who eat cats are to be blamed as rats now roam freely even during the day.
I am simply reporting what I read in a local African newspaper (hardcopy). I think the newspaper is the Swazi Observer. You can see the Twitter feed from which I have taken this story.
It’s interesting in some respects because I remember many years ago writing about a rat infestation in southern China. In southern China they eat cats in large numbers. There appears to have been a parallel crisis in China. We don’t know for sure that eating cats creates an infestation of rats. The argument seems to be too simplistic. Indeed, a lot of people say that cats are not very good at keeping down rat populations.
Nonetheless, it’s worth reporting. There is no doubt that there is a role to play by feral cats in communities in keeping at bay rodent populations considered to be pests. Removing feral cats could see a rat infestation.