Date of release: Friday, February 7, 2014

Rat menace combated in new researchThe major threats that rats and mice pose to millions of people in Africa are to be tackled by a new €1 million research project led by the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich.

'StopRats' aims to address the significant damage caused by rodents to people, public health, crops, buildings, personal possessions and health.

Despite being a well-recognised problem throughout the world, there has been relatively little research on rodent pest impact and management to date.

The project has six target countries: Tanzania, Swaziland, Namibia, Madagascar, South Africa and Sierra Leone, and will be focussed on smallholder farmers. Agricultural communities face multiple problems from rodents, and lowering rodent pest numbers can have a great impact on reducing poverty.

Project coordinator Dr Steve Belmain, an Ecologist specialising in pest and disease management at NRI, says: “Rodents are arguably one of the most neglected pests on the planet. The StopRats project will bring together experts from across the African continent to find appropriate technology for managing these.”

In addition, 'StopRats: Sustainable Technology to Overcome Pest Rodents in Africa Through Science' will build research capacity in African institutions, with sustainable teams for science technology and innovation. Dr Belmain says: “This could be one of the most important interventions of the 21st century across the continent to reduce poverty and improve people's livelihoods.”

Story by Public Relations