Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tests start for CMAC’s rats

Tests start for CMAC’s rats

A demining expert watches as a rat tries to detect landmines by tracing the smell of explosive material at a facility in Tanzania in 2004
A demining expert watches as a rat tries to detect landmines by tracing the smell of explosive material at a facility in Tanzania in 2004. AFP

Tests start for CMAC’s rats

Cambodia may have a new, and decidedly low-tech, tool for clearing active landmine fields: rats.

This month, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) began testing the effectiveness of rats trained to sniff out landmines and other explosives in areas of the Kingdom where decades-old bombs remain buried, CMAC director general Heng Rattana said yesterday.

“Our plan to test, we believe, will take three to four months to complete,” Rattana said. “We just started testing this month.”

Working with demining group APOPO, which trains the rats, CMAC has imported 10 of the nearly half-metre rodents from Tanzania, Rattana said.

According to APOPO’s website, the rats are suited to demining, because of their extraordinary sense of smell, trainability, and low weight that will not set off landmines.

If tests find the rats to be as successful as they have been in some Sub-Saharan African countries, they could begin work in problem areas of Cambodia in about eight months.

However, variables including the difference in climate and how deep underground explosives are buried could change their efficacy, Rattana said.

“It’s hard to say in Cambodia,” Rattana explained. “We’re quite concerned about these [upcoming] results.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Ranariddh 'seriously injured', his wife dies in accident in Preah Sihanouk

    THE wife of former first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh has died. Ouk Phalla succumbed to injuries sustained in a traffic accident on National Road 4 in Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nub district this morning. She and the prince were immediately rushed to the Preah Sihanouk

  • US slammed over BGU head as Foreign Ministry says sanctions violate international principles

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) has condemned the US Department of Treasury for its sanctions, announced on Tuesday, against Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang for his alleged role in infringing human rights. In a statement, the ministry said it is disturbing