|A trained detection rat hard a work.|
Unexploded ordinances (UXO) are a world wide problem which I briefly touched upon in the last post on Green Mountain. In the U.S. sites are mostly old army training locations and the dangerous areas are generally known. But this is not the case in most countries. In Africa especially there are huge swaths of land deemed dangerous because one land mine exploded and they do not know how many others could exist. Land is classified as confirmed hazardous area (CHA), suspected hazardous area (SHA), or area with retrictions (AWR). It is difficult to identify which parts of a CHA can be released back to the community without some type of technology based survey. An example of a technology based survey would be a metal detector or time-domain electromagnetics. These techniques cost a lot of money and time. Especially when usually only 10% of the perceived dangerous area contains UXOs.
Enter the rats. Yes, trained rats that find land mines, shells, etc. The reason rats work is because they have highly sensitive smell and they are light enough that they won't trip a land mine.
|A rat making a positive identification of a land mine.|
|A trainer with his detection rat.|
Some times conventional methods just won't do it. Thinking outside the box can find creative solutions that work for a specific situation. Dogs can also find land mines but they require more kennel space, more food, and more time to train. They also don't fair too well in the hot African climate. Rats to the rescue, literally. The rat is making a come back! To learn more check out this CNN article and the APOPO website where you can "adopt" a rat.