Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said that mine sniffing rats will clear 8sq km this year with the support of APOPO in Cambodia.

Thuch made the announcement on August 11 during a meeting with APOPO’s newly appointed director Michael Raine.

APOPO is a Belgian non-governmental organisation with many decades experience in mine searching and disease tracking through their trained rats, known as 'HeroRATs'.

“APOPO has deployed Detection Mine (MDR) rats for mine and ammunition clearance since 2017. They also employ mine-sniffing dogs, or what they call Technical Survey Dogs (TSD) or smart TSDs” he said.

According to Thuch, APOPO currently has more than 250 animals working worldwide in mine and Unexploded Ordnance clearance.

Thuch said the APOPO presence in Cambodia began in 2014 in cooperation with the Mine Action Centre, when they formed a mine-sniffing rat team in Siem Reap province. From 2016 to 2021, APOPO also established working teams in Phreah Vihear province and formed the first ever smart TSD team in Cambodia.

“Currently APOPO has rat and dog teams cooperating with CMAC and the Mines Advisory Group in Siem Reap, Battambang, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakkiri, with a total of 124 staff – along with 80 animals,” he said.

He said in 2021, APOPO cleared about 7sq km. The NGO has received support until 2025 from the government of Belgium and other foundations in Europe and the US.