Poor waste management at UCT has a direct correlation to the number of rats living on the campus. In turn, the rodenticides used in pest management at UCT negatively impact the wildlife living on the Table Mountain National Park who feed on these rats, particularly caracals, GENETS, birds and snakes.

Associate Professor Fritha Langerman curated an exhibition R-A-T at the Iziko South African Museum in 2012/13. This exhibition drew attention to the commensal Rattus norvegicus that is closely related to the development of human populations, deeply embedded within cultural and social histories, and an icon of modernity. It also focussed on the impact of poisoning. Towards the end of 2022 aspects of this project will be re-curated on the UCT’s  Upper Campus and will relate to the campus context in particular. https://frithalangerman.com/r-a-t-an-associative-ordering/

Professor Nicoli Nattrass has for many years been researching the relationship between waste, rats, poisoning and the environment, both at UCT and greater Cape Town area.  UCT’s pest control policy is a major focus of the wildlife group in the Khusela Ikamva Sustainable Campus Initiative.

Waste, rodents and integrated pest management at UCT, Nicoli Nattrass, May 2022.CSSR Working Paper No. 469


The University of Cape Town (UCT) has long been committed to ‘Integrated Pest Management’ (IPM) yet has struggled to implement this. IPM prioritizes prevention over poisoning yet persistent collective action failures within the university – especially over the poor management of waste – and between pest control companies and university managers, have made this difficult to achieve in practice. This paper focusses on the challenge of managing pest rodents at UCT. It provides a brief history and reports on early efforts through the ‘Khusela Ikamva Sustainable Campus’ initiative to reduce the use of, and need for, rodenticides. This action research suggests that ecological considerations are important in developing pest control protocols (especially given that UCT’s upper campus is within a national park) and that adaptive management can assist with institutional learning. Even so, there is a clear need for more widespread engagement with all stakeholders at UCT to achieve IPM in practice.