Published on enero 6th, 2014 | by remmso22
Britain funds scheme to send GIANT RATS to sniff out thousands of landmines in Mozambique
Britain is funding a scheme to train GIANT RATS to sniff out thousands of buried landmines in Mozambique.
The initiative is part of a new £5million mine clearing programme by the UK’s department for international development over the next three years.
The international mine clearance charity APOPO is putting the giant Gambian pouched rats through eight months of training to detect the explosive TNT.
A rat can search an area 14 times larger than a human mine clearer in a day and they are light enough to walk over the mines without setting them off.
Britain awarded APOPO £60,000 in 2013 through the United Nations development programme and the country is expected to be mine free within months.
The £5million pot of money has been earmarked for the UN development programme , the charity UNICEF and the UN mine action service.
Britain is supporting mine clearance in ten of the world’s worst affected countries including Mozambique.
Bart Weetjens, APOPO’s founder, said: “The work of APOPO is all about empowering communities living in limited resources settings to tackle difficult, dangerous and expensive detection tasks more independently.
“Using a sustainable local resource – our hero rats – and involving our beneficiaries in the technology design and implementation processes have proven to be critical factors to our sustained impact.”
Tens of thousands of landmines were laid in Mozambique during the fight for independence from Portugal between 1964-75 and in the civil war that followed.
Although the war ended in the early nineties, landmines continue to claim lives in the African state.
The giant Gambian rat is ideal for the job because, although it has poor eyesight, it is exceptionally intelligent and has a keen sense of smell.
It can grow up to three feet in length – half of which is made up of its long tail – which makes it roughly the same size as a domestic cat.
They can weigh up to three and a half stone and live up to eight years and use their large, hamster-like cheeks to store and transport food.
Justine Greening, International Development Secretary, said:“Everyone knows rats can sniff out food but it turns out they can be trained to sniff out mines too.
“British funding has helped anti-mine charity APOPO to destroy thousands of mines across Mozambique.
“This not only saves lives but frees up valuable, fertile land on which to grow crops and contribute to the local economy.”
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