Giant rats deminer in Cambodian killing fields, a one-eyed rodent called Pit is trained together with 14 other rats to sniff deadly landmines left after the Cambodian genocide in 1979.
The working rat named,Pit needs 11 minutes before detecting a deadly mine buried in a Cambodian killing fields, compared to humans using metal detectors that could have taken up to five days to spot a landmine.
“Under a clear sky, he would have been quicker,” Hul Sokheng, a veteran Cambodian deminer said.
A trained rat can search an area 14 times larger than a human mine clearer in a day, they are light enough to step into the mines without exploding it off.
Hul oversees the training of 12 handlers in working with 15 giant rats to clear bombs in Cambodia’s farmlands and rural villages. Rats are undergoing training in Siem Reap province.
“These are life-saving rats,” he said.
A Belgian non-profit organization called APOPO trained Pit and his rat friends, all Gambian pouched rats to sniff out landmines since they were 4 weeks old.
The rats are deployed from Tanzania to Cambodia to help clear the deadly mines that hunts the country for over a decade.
Since 1979 nearly 20,000 Cambodians were killed and about 44,000 people were wounded, exlcuded the Cambodian genocide history, because of unexploded devices, landmines and unexploded shells and related accidents were reported, the Cambodian government said.
Pit is able to smell highly explosive TNT inside landmines, watched over by two handlers who tie him up to a rope as the giant rodent searches through the grass.
“He knows his duty: search,” said Hul Sokheng.
Rats are not heavy enough to explode the landmines so it pose no danger to them.
Several countries have already used the giant rats of APOPO to clear landmines; Angola, Mozambique, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
Since 1979, the Cambodian Mine Victim Information Service has recorded 19,684 people killed by landmines.
Landmines are still scattered around in Cambodian killing fields after a decade of war and Cambodian genocide 1975-1979, in which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (21% of the country’s population.
The Khmer Rouge ” Cambodian Killing Fields” Cambodian genocide is one of the world’s highest fatality rate. Image/ EMMANUEL KWITEMA/REUTERS/CORBIS