Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana has announced that two of the centre’s landmine sniffing dogs have given birth to litters of puppies.

He hoped that the new additions will become part of the next generation of the Kingdom’s mine detection dogs. At present, almost 300 of the canine heroes are in service. 

Ratana said on January 2 that the two litters – totalling 17 puppies – were the cause for great celebrations as 2024 begins.

To date, he added, nearly 100 puppies under the age of six months are beginning their basic training and selection, while almost 300 adult dogs are ready for operations.

“The total is not enough. We need to expand the resources we can muster, as they are not just employed in mine detection work, but other areas, like detecting drugs and tracking,” he said.

He explained that the Kingdom’s canine mine detectors have been deployed in places such as Syria and the Central African Republic.

In the past, Cambodia had to import mine sniffing dogs from foreign nations, but is now able to breed and supply them to countries in need.

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Ratana said the dogs are making a significant contribution to the clearance of landmines across the Kingdom. They are particularly useful in helping to speed up demining work when used alongside technology like metal detectors.

“We have integrated the use of both explosive and metal detectors, as well as mine-sniffing dogs, to speed up our demining work,” he explained.

These dogs are not only helping CMAC with its work, but also join other authorities in searching for drugs and tracking suspects, according to Ratana.

A CMAC report stated that landmine sniffing dogs were first imported to support the CMAC by the Swedish Army in 1996. This was the beginning of a pilot training course on the use and training of the dogs.

The project ended in 2002. CMAC developed the programme, and began breeding and training new canines in 2016. 

The success of the programme means the Kingdom no longer needs to import mine sniffing dogs, but is in a position to export them to the international community, while also supporting domestic operations.