Categories: Caracal

Rat poison affects 92% of caracals living near Cape Town, SA

Researchers from the University of Cape Town working at the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild) have concluded that anti-coagulant rat poison used in the urban environment of Cape Town is poisoning caracals and other wildlife on the outskirts (the peri-urban environment) because the rats eat rat poison and die slowly because it is designed to work that way. They become easy prey.

Photo: Petra van der Berg & Lars Hurenkamp

It is believed that caracals are eating rats which populate the vineyards of Cape Town. The vineyards don’t use rat poison but they host businesses such as hotels and restaurants which do use it.

The caracal had the highest exposure to rat poisons at 92%. Overall, across seven species of wild animal tested, the exposure rate was 81%.

The poisons detected are a found in standard over-the-counter products.

“We detected at least one of the four most toxic rat poison compounds…” – Dr Jacqueline Bishop.

Lactating female caracals were exposed to the poison which means that their cubs will be too.

Six wild species are definitely at risk, all predators: caracal, Cape clawless otter, Cape eagle owl, large spotted genet, honey badger and the water mongoose.

The fact that otters are poisoned is indicative of the profound affect these poisons are having on wildlife near Cape Town because it means the water is toxic due to polluted water run off from urban Cape Town. This water goes into the waterways affecting the aquatic food chain.

The researchers hope that their work will stimulate a discussion on how to limit poisoning the environment with poisons.

“….we need more eco-friendly alternatives to rat poison…[and] to improve the management of waste [to avoid attracting rats]”.

Comment: this is yet one more hazard for wildlife to navigate which is impossible as they are engulfed by human-created environmental hazards from these poisons to habitat loss, roads, poaching and so on.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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