TIME tanzania

Rats Sniff Out Danger: 15 Years of Land Mine Progress

In Tanzania Giant African Pouched Rat rats are being used to identify and sniff out land mines.

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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