Bomb Sniffing Rats Clean Mozambique
Mozambique- Today, rats have assisted in reopening 2 million square meters (aprox. 6.5 million feet) of previously unsafe land in Mozambique, thanks to their ability to sniff out hidden land mines.
It takes about nice months to train a rat to sniff the TNT used in a land mine. The rat indicates his discovery by scratching at the dirt above the buried explosive. The rats are well suited for this gig, being too light to set off the mines, and easily motivated by a food reward. They can also be trained to the do the work faster than their dog counterparts.
The process of clearing a 100 square meter area of land used to take roughly a week. Using a trained bomb sniffer rat, that same area can be cleared in less than half an hour.
The project is the brain child of Belgium based organization Apopo. It has been so successful the rats are being sent to Angola as well, where there may be as many as 1 to 6 million land mines yet to be unearthed. It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 deaths as a result of land mines world-wide every year.
“Detection is the most difficult, dangerous and expensive part of mine action. Since rats are much easier to train than dogs, rats in this environment are much more appropriate,” said Bart Weetjens, the founder of Apopo.
To adopt a bomb sniffing rat, through the Apopo shared adoption program, visit here.
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