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Employing rats to clear mines in Africa

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YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP - Getty Images

A baby giant African pouch rat is rewarded with a banana by its trainer after accurately finding a dummy mine during a training exercise at the grounds of a pioneering Belgian NGO in Morogoro, Tanzania on October 27, 2010. Light, with an acute sense of smell and easily motivated by food rewards, these kind of rats have been found to be highly effective in mine detection. It takes two human deminers a day to clear a 200 square-metre (2,150 square-feet) minefield, but if they work with two rats they can sweep it in 1.5 hours. So far they have helped re-open almost two million square metres of land

 

YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP - Getty Images

A baby giant African pouch rat is is watched by its trainer as it learns to correctly identify the scent of tuberculosis in sputum samples during a training exercice at the grounds of a pioneering Belgian NGO in Morogoro, Tanzania on October 27, 2010.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP - Getty Images

A baby giant African pouch rat is carried in a cage by its trainer at the main grounds of the center.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP - Getty Images

A baby giant African pouch rat sits on the shoulder of the Bart Weetjens, the founder of APOPO, the Belgian NGO that's teaching the rats to smell out landmines.