Tanzanian Rats to help Cambodia detect landmines

Tanzania will soon send 16 giant rats to Cambodia to sniff out landmines in the south-east Asian nation.
The giant pouched rats have been trained to detect landmines by Belgian non-profit organisation Apopo at its headquarters in Tanzania’s eastern region of Morogoro.

Said Dibwe, a trainer from the Apopo Rodent Research Project, said the Cambodian government requested Tanzania to deliver 16 rats for landmine detection.

He said the move would save the lives of the Cambodian people as well as reduce deaths and injuries caused by landmine explosions.

“We are just waiting for the permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism so that we can deliver the detection rats to Cambodia,” Dibwe said.

In February, Apopo delivered eight detection rats to Cambodia “and the response was good and that’s why it requested more”. The demand is huge in countries that have been hit by landmine explosions such as Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia.  “Apopo has already delivered 70 detection rats to Mozambique and we are expecting to deliver eight detection rats to Angola and we are planning to deliver detection rats to Zimbabwe also,” he said.

The training centre was established in 2000.

Tthe training for sniffing rats is carried out by the Morogoro-based Sokoine University of Agriculture in collaboration with the Department of Biology at the University of Antwerp.

The training facilities comprise 24 hectares of test minefields with more than 1500 deactivated buried landmines.

The giant rats have been also trained to detect TB. – Xinhua

source:African Independent