Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Army of mine detection rats begin training in Cambodia

Army of mine detection rats begin training in Cambodia

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The APOPO mine-detecting rats arrived in Cambodia on June 5. APOPO’S HERO RATS

Army of mine detection rats begin training in Cambodia

Demining experts announced that a group of 20 mine detection rats have arrived in Cambodia and will go through three to six months of training before they begin operations. They are reported to be in healthy condition and are currently acclimatising to their new home, and new handlers.

Michael Heiman, Cambodia programme manager for APOPO – an international NGO that trains southern giant pouched rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis – said on June 12 that the rats arrived in the Kingdom on June 5, after one year of intensive training at APOPO’s centre in Tanzania. The reason for arrival of the reinforcements is the expansion of demining operations in Preah Vihear province, thanks to funding by the Belgian government.

“In Cambodia, the rats will go through a six-week familiarisation training and accreditation. APOPO has been working in collaboration with CMAC since 2016, and currently has 64 working rats in Cambodia,” he said, referring the Cambodia Mine Action Centre.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said on June 12 that the newly arrived rats were still in training and would need between three and six months before they were ready for operations.

Ratana said the new intake had arrived to replace some of the current pool of rats that were slated to retire from service. A CMAC working group and APOPO were teaming up to create a new group of mine detection rats, he noted.

He said that after they are fully trained, the rats are expected to work on mine clearing for up to eight years. In the past, no rats had managed eight years of service, possibly due to climatic factors, as the heat in Cambodia does not suit them.

Ratana said the rats were extremely efficient in certain specific terrains.

“The rats are very useful and effective in any location that suits their characteristics. If a place is not suitable, we don’t deploy them. We set out our tasks very specifically, and when we have a situation that suits their skills, we use them ahead of using machines,” he said.

APOPO said on June 9 that handlers had been eagerly awaiting the rats arrival in Phnom Penh. They arrived safely, and after a period of rest and recuperation they finished the last leg of the trip to Siem Reap province by car.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10