Rodent pest management in East Africa—an ecological approach

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Rodent Pest Management in East Africa


Rodents are by far the greatest vertebrate pest problem in East Africa. They are responsible for substantial damage to food and cash crops, structures and industrial and domestic property. More than 25 species of rodents have been recorded as pests in agriculture, causing a wide range of damage and losses in cereals, legumes, vegetables, root crops, cotton and sugarcane. Pest species occupy a diversity of habitats, including cultivated fields, urban environments and domestic areas. Other than being instrumental in crop damage, they are also reservoirs and carriers of zoonotic diseases, which in some areas of East Africa have claimed many victims. The management of rodents has focused on conventional methods, mainly the use of rodenticides as a symptomatic treatment approach. These methods are supported by government, especially to contain outbreaks. However, conventional control methods have remained largely ineffective. An ecological approach for management of rodent outbreaks is not widely practiced for lack of basic experimental data to substantiate its efficacy. Measures that are practiced on a limited scale but have a wide scope for future management of rodents in East Africa include various techniques of environmental manipulation that specifically focus on altering the suitable habitats for rodents to reduce their carrying capacity. Strategies for management of rodent populations in urban areas, in post-harvest crop systems and in response to disease outbreaks are not well developed. For the future, a more pragmatic approach is required, involving among other things, better planning of urban housing schemes, sanitation and hygienic measures; improved storage structures and practices; and ecologically focused rodent management techniques. Recent studies on rodent ecology in East Africa have enabled the development of models to forecast outbreaks. These, when incorporated in development and implementation of control activities, may assist in alleviating the damage and losses due to rodents in the future.


Rodent Pest Management in East Africa


Rodents, East Africa, Pest management, Mastomys natalensis, Rattus rattus, Mus musculus, Mathematical models, Ecology