Sunspray turns to nature for rodent control

Confronted with an infestation of rodents, Sunspray Food Ingredients in Johannesburg has successfully turned to nature for help – and it’s a heartwarming story.

Sunspray’s primary manufacturing premises is situated in Industria, which is possibly the oldest industrial area of Jo’burg. A main railway siding with offshoot sidings runs right through the heart of Industria and this is no longer used and has fallen into a state of disrepair. This combination of old buildings and the derelict siding system resulted in a major problem with rodents.

For many years Sunspray managed to control the infestation with the normal methods of poison and bait stations but have recently come up with a far more ecologically-friendly solution – the introduction of barn owls into the area. 

“Working with EcoSolutions, we acquired our first batch of three owls in May and these were released in June. Our next batch of four owls arrived in July and were released in August, while the third batch of four owls has just recently been delivered. We have also put up three nesting boxes so hopefully we will soon see owls breeding on our site. Our staff have been very involved as the owls have to be fed initially and we’ve had enthusiastic volunteers who’ve taken turns at feeding them every morning. In fact, many of the staff have overcome a fear of owls by being involved in the project,” says David Watson, the MD of Sunspray.

The net result the owl initiative, he reports, is that the rodent population has decreased significantly and virtually no stocks have had to be written off recently due to rodent damage. Based on the success of this initiative, Watson adds, Sunspray will be introducing barn owls to its other manufacturing site situated in Bronkhorstspruit.