Rodent Mine Detectors saving lives
Specially trained rats that are raised to sniff out land mines are making huge progress in parts of South East Asia and Africa.
The African Giant Pouched Rats, which can grow up to one metre in length, are trained almost from birth to detect explosives under the ground. Their excellent sense of smell means that an area they can cover in twenty minutes, would take a person with a metal detector 4 days to complete.
There are thousands of incidents every year where people and animals are seriously injured or killed due to accidentally detonating undiscovered landmines. Originally trained to find UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) in Mozambique, they are now carrying out this vital role in Angola, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
APOPO, the organisation that trains the rats, inform that over 130,000 landmines, UXO’s and weapons have been found and deactivated.
The great work carried out by these rats not only saves lives, but clears land that can be used by farmers to grow crops and vegetation. April 4th is marked as International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action by the United Nations. This aims to raise awareness of the issues faced and to celebrate the success already made.