1. The little puppy in the miniature harness is constantly tugging with his little little nose, checking the field for the presence of mines. His other relatives have already helped to clear the vast territories in neighboring Mozambique.
2. Two month old little rat crosses a piece of land. Two special trainers go behind, controlling a special crossbar, which helps the rat to move strictly back and forth.
3. Easily motivated by food pieces, African marsupials were very effective in detecting mines. itThe first of its kind training project was launched in Tanzania by the non-governmental organization APOPO from the Netherlands.
4. Rodents are vaccinated with a certain psychology: the sound of a click means that they receive a reward.
5. “Finding mines is the most difficult, dangerous and expensive part of our work. Under these conditions, rats are much more suitable than dogs, because they are easier to train, ”says Bart Veetiens, founder of APOPO.
6. During the day, two sappers manage to clear 200 square meters of territory, but if they work with rats, they can do it in two hours. “Rats are very effective. At the moment, they have already helped to clear two million square meters of land, ”says Bart Veetiens.
7. Other rats undergo another type of training - they help detect tuberculosis in saliva samples.
8. Training starts at the 4 week-old. First, the rats get used to people, and then they are taught to associate the sound of a click with a reward of food.
9. After all this, rats are taught to distinguish the smell of trotyl from everything else.
10. Nine months of grueling workouts on and off the field is enough for full training.
11. “Work is not easy at all. You must be patient. Sometimes I get upset, but again and again I take myself in hand, repeating to myself that these are just animals and that my work will save people's lives, ”says trainer Abdul Mkomvu.
12. APOPO also launched a special project that allows individuals and legal entities to contribute to the training and raising of rats in exchange for a certificate that allows us to appropriate animals.
13. Veetiens says that the next step in the training process of rats will be their training in detecting drugs or finding victims in natural disasters.