Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Remote Control

This is an interesting wee story in the Irish Times today - "Large African rats being used to find landmines in Mozambique"...

A species of large African field rat has become the latest recruit in the fight to de-mine one of the African continent's mine-infested regions.

The animals are being used in Mozambique to detect landmines and unexploded ordnance that is still threatening hundreds of thousands of people and hampering economic activity 13 years after the end of a brutal war that claimed up to one million lives.

Trained to sniff out the chemical traces associated with various types of explosive, the large rat is led by a handler across a suspect land area that has been cordoned off for de-mining, and segmented using lengths of string along which the rats are guided.

Hands up if you thought the rats blow themselves up? You bad people!...

"This method not only saves time, but money and the lives of people who would otherwise be searching for the mines themselves. The rats are too light to set off the mines and the species chosen has a high curiosity level, which gives it a longer attention span than sniffer dogs are likely to have."
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