Inside a rotating glass container, the rats are exposed to several scented samples to get them used to the smell of TNT on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. . These exercises are a part of 'operational conditioning.'
The rats are exposed to several scented samples to get them used to the smell of TNT on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. These exercises are a part of 'operational conditioning.'Alvaro Laiz and David Rengel—Transterra Media/Polaris
Inside a rotating glass container, the rats are exposed to several scented samples to get them used to the smell of TNT on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. . These exercises are a part of 'operational conditioning.'
A HeroRAT locates a diffused grenade in training while his trainer keeps his distance on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania.
A coach gives pureed fruit to the rat in a corridor-shaped cage on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. . The rat is being trained to detect TNT inside the cage. The rat stops walking when it has located the sample that contains TNT and is rewarded with the fruit.
A trainer in a protective suit holds a HeroRAT on a leash as it searches for mines on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. . The distance created between the trainer and the rat saves human lives and significantly curtails the risks to the human mine clearers.
A poster announcing the danger of mines on the front of a Land Rover on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania.
A HeroRAT sniffs out a mine on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania.
Local trainer Peter Mushi gives one of the rats a piece of banana as a reward A HeroRAT sniffs out a mine on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. The rats are rewarded with a sweet or fruit when a mine or explosive device is found.
Local trainer Peter Mushi prepares a rat for its daily lesson on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanzania. Rats make perfect candidates for mine clearing because their sense of smell is excellent, they are natives of Africa and thus immune to many tropical diseases, and, most importantly, their weight is perfect as they weigh less than the 10kg required to detonate a mine.
The rats are exposed to several scented samples to get them used to the smell of TNT on June 20, 2014 in Morogoro, Tanza
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Alvaro Laiz and David Rengel—Transterra Media/Polaris
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Rats Sniff Out Danger: 15 Years of Land Mine Progress

Jun 23, 2014

Correction appended, June 23

Fifteen years after the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention gathered for the first time with a signed treaty in Mozambique, its leaders met again Monday to asses the progress that has been made. In the past 15 years, 161 countries have signed on. The meeting, which will last through Friday, will evaluate the advancements that have been made banning the use of land mine weapons, helping land mine victims, and clearing minefields.

In the bordering country of Tanzania, Giant African Pouched Rat rats are being used to identify and sniff out land mines. These enormous rodents are bred and trained by a Belgian NGO called APOPO, which has it's headquarters based in Tanzania. Once the rats have undergone the six-step training process to become experts at sniffing out TNT and detecting mines they are known as HeroRATs. These photo show what the training process is like for these life-saving rodents.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated when the meeting of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention will end and when members first met as signatories to the treaty.

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