Meet Cambodia's HeroRATs

Landmines and UXO in Cambodia have had a devastating effect on the population. To understand more about this situation and the steps being taken to eradicate them, we recommend paying a visit to the HeroRATs of APOPO.

Set up over 20 years ago in Belgium, APOPO has trained the highly sensitive, almost-blind Gambian giant pouched rats (fondly nicknamed HeroRATs) to sniff explosives, which dramatically speeds up the detection of mines in the countryside. The rats are currently clearing landmines in Siem Reap province in partnership with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). And in some African countries the rats have also been trained to detect tuberculosis in patients – more heroic work!

Apopo have now added HeroDOGS to their landmine-clearing operations. The breed being used for the operations are the little-known Belgian Malinois, who will become Technical Survey dogs, able to sniff out large sections of unusable land, before its cleared of debris and the HeroRATS move in to locate each piece of explosive.

The APOPO Visitor Centre in Siem Reap operates frequent tours which take around 30 minutes to an hour and include a short video and a chance to see the rats in action as they show their skills in an example minefield-area.

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