The NGO APOPO has announced plans to raise funds via crowdfunding to transform a former
military site in Mozambique into a nature reserve.
The organisation uses specially trained rats that can sniff out explosives. They are known as
HERO Rats. There are sixteen African giant pouched rats used in operations at this site.
They are trained from an early age to first associate a 'click' sound with food. Then they are taught to scent out TNT and are rewarded with food and a click when they correctly differentiate this smell.
Food is then hidden in a sandbox and the rat has to find it and walk down lanes back to its
trainer. After that they enter field training and then fianlly they are used for real operations.
The work is ongoing at the Malhazine site in Maputo. There have been several explosions therein
the past which have left many civilians either dead or maimed, and ammunition scattered across
The site will be transferred into an ecologial park and will be staffed by locals.
So far in other operations, principally mine clearing, HERO Rats have cleared 13274 mines, 28792
small arms and ammunition, and 1142 bombs, and returned 11,000,000 m2 of land to the public.
Not all rats are bad.
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