Cambodia has recruited a new team of mine-sniffing rats to replace those already “retired” in an effort to boost demining operations in the country.
The country, plagued for decades by unexploded ordnance, has recruited the next generation of sniffer mice of land mines, writes the Manila Times. The team is made up of 20 giant African rats, imported from Tanzania, and they all went through intensive training.
Thanks to their keen sense of smell, these animals become a key player in the effort to boost demining operations in the country.
On June 11, during a training session, So Malen told the Reuters that “it’s easy to work with all of them, they don’t care who their keepers are”. “Any one of us can be your caretaker and, most importantly, they don’t bite.”
Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, with over 1,000 square kilometers of land still contaminated. It is also one of the countries with the highest number of amputees per capita, with more than 40,000 people who have lost limbs to the explosives.
The new recruit will replace the reformed rats, among them Magawa, the sniffer mouse who found 71 land mines and 38 unexploded ordnance during his five-year career.
Last year, the rat was proclaimed a hero and awarded for saving lives in the country. The British charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) has delivered a gold medal to Magawa, for its work in detecting unexploded landmines.