We use Rats to clear Minefields – Here’s How

We use Rats to clear Minefields – Here’s How


After decades of wars and bloody conflics,
some of which still rage on today, Destruction, Misery and, death reign supreme in many countries
of Africa. But even in Countries were conflicts have
died down in recent years, their deadly leagacies continue to claim thousands of lives every
year. Through landmines and unexploded ordnance
In Africa alone, they ve killed or maimed over 8000 people in 2016, globally it were
between 10,000 and 20,000 casualties. Roughly 50% of them were children. It is estimated that there are Currently over
55 million landmines and other explosives in over 84 countries around the world rendering
about 1.3 million acres of land useless. Whats more, their removal is timeconsuming,
difficult and expensive. While one mine only costs between $3 and $30,
the cost of removing it is with $300 to $1000 up to 300 times more expensive depending on
the method. There are a few possible methods to use: special
armored demining vehicles or other High tech tools. Such and Ground penetrating radar. Dogs that have been trained to sniff the presence
of explosives and the most common method. Manual clearance. with handhelt metal detectors. But there is a downside to everything. Highendtools are exremely expensive and therefore
typcially only used by the military. Dogs are prone to tropical diseases, and their
weight can easily set off a landmine. In Addition they are also farily expensive. a well trainied detection dog can cost up
to 40000$. And manual clearance is extremely slow because
metal detectors are very inacurate. tpyically yielding about one thousand false
positives for every mine, which only gets worse africas ironrich soil. Ultimately none of these methods are very
practical, especially for poor African countries where this problem has the greatest impact
As a result of this in many of the affected areas Agricultural activities have been brought
to a total halt and delivery of health services, humanitarian aid and, road construction are
hampered which in turn made millions of people refugees
But there is Hope. In form of the most unlikely creature imaginable:
a rat. For almost 20 years now african Giant pounched
Rats are being trained by the belgian aid organisation APOPO in their Tanzanian based
Headquauter and trainingfacilities . and with great success. The main goal of the project was to develop
a tool that would allow the people in these countries to address this life-threatening
problem more independently using resouwrces they have at hand
The African giant pouched rat was ideal for this for a multitude of reasons. First This rat species endemic to sub-Saharan
Africa and is very common and even considered a pest in many regions. Second, they very small – not nessesarily
compared to other rat species as they are roughly the size of a smaller house cat, but
compared to dogs and humans. This means They need little food, little space
and most importantly they wont set off active landmines by themselves. Whats more, they are very intelligent and
blessed with a sense of smell to rival that of dogs, which is an adaptation to their nocturnal
lifestyle and allows them to easily detect buried explosives. The only downside to this is that they are
very susceptible to sunburn, making it nessesarly to keep their ears and tails slathered with
sunblock But most importantly. they are easily conditioned. once they know doing a specific task will
get them a tasty piece of banana they love to repeat it as long as long as you reward
them. All of that makes them perfecty suited for
detecting mines and they are fast as well: they can each search 200 square metres of
land in just 20 minutes; a person using a metal detector would take up to five days
for that. their training is by no means easy, however. It usally takes 9 months and around 5000$
(in total costs including staff salaries) for a single rat to become an official HeroRAT. First The rats need to be trained to differentiate
between the smell of explosives and other smells by rewarding them every time the correct
sample is identified. This alone takes several months. In the next stage of their training they then
have to prove their minesniffing capabilities in the field. For that APOPO established the most extensive
training Minefield in Africa that allows them to train the rats in near-to-real conditions. Here the rats have to put their noses to the
test in a series of courses, week after week. led on a leash they have to systematically
move up and down each course and indicate where the pre-planted mines are buried. When a rat sniffs a mine it scratches the
surface at the spot pointing out the location to the trainer. For that she gets a reward. The expectations are high, if a rat isnt performing
it is withdrawn from training but kept on as a playmate for the others. At the end of their nine-month bootcamp they
have to prove what they have learned. In their final test they are not allowed to
miss a single mine if they want to become a HeroRat. 100% accuracy is demanded. The Life of their trainers depens on it. If their pass the test however they will get
their offical license to head on mineclearing missions around the world. For the next 6ths months anyway, thats how
long their HeroRat license lasts. Then they have to return and to do the test
again. Some Herorats rats might serve for almost
8 years. thats how long Giant pouch rats live – roughly
5 years longer than most other rat species. In 2003, APOPO mine detection operations began
in Mozambique. They lasted for 9 years and together with
traditional mine sweeping tecniques Mozambique was officially declared free of all landmines
in 2015. In the process, they destroyed a total of
13,274 landmines and made 11,124,446 square metres (1,110 ha; 2,750 acres) of land usable
again. As a result of the early success in monzambique
APOPO implemented additonal demining operations in Angola and Zimbabwe and even outside of
Africa in countries such as cambodia, columbia and vietnam. Additonally work is already underway to apply
a similar approach to other fields such Tuberculosis screening. Tuberculosis is still one of the deadliest
and most contagious diseases in the world. in poor countries microscopy is mainly used
to detect it but this is slow, and imprecise. It takes a laboratory technician one day to
evaluate 20 samples and only 50% of TB positive patients tested are actually identified correctly. HeroRats need less than 5 minutes for that
and are extremely accurate. Since 2007 they are used to mass-screen at-risk
populations and to retests samples that have already been tested by microscopy. In 2015 and 2016 alone, they could detected
over 20,000 TB patients initially missed by microscopy tests increasing the TB detection
rate by over 40% and preventing hundrets of thousands of potential followup infections. All of this makes Herorats a title which was
origianally only designed as a creative marketing and fundraising campaign to true Heros in
every sense of the word and everyone involved in the project as well

100 thoughts on “We use Rats to clear Minefields – Here’s How

  1. Now did you decide to make the video about mine clearing rats before you made the Star Wars segment or did you make the rest of the video because you really wanted to animate rats attacking the Death Star?

  2. Mines are very effective in warfare, it's just a shame that they're also very deadly after the wars are long since over, which is why there's a ban on the use of anti-personnel mines. It would be wonderful if anti-personnel mines were pressure sensitive to the point where children cannot activate them by mistake. They'd still fill their purpose since most people in wars are adults. Won't do much for the current mines though. Maybe if someone invented smart mines that will detonate at +60 KG and inactivate themselves via battery once the battery runs out. So they'll stop working automatically after lets say a year.

    Assuming the smart mine always inactivates without failure, you'd not have to worry about any casualties after the war is over. People would simply have to avoid mined areas for a year or so, assuming people didn't mine it more than once. War is about killing your enemy and mines do this in a way that does not only maim(which is often better than killing since you'd disable a unit by them having to take care of the wounded, rather than just leaving them when they die), but it's also psychological warfare. I'm still very much against biological and chemical warfare though. While effective, the lasting effects are just too cruel.

  3. If these stupid people have the guts to plant those mines in the first place. Why can't they just remember the areas and remove the mines themselves?

  4. All wings report in…
    Rat 4 standing by.
    Rat 2 standing by.
    Rat 3 standing by.
    Rat Leader in, Operation MINECRAFT is a GO!

  5. You’d think they’d use a kind of mine that would need more weight than a rat after seeing this.

  6. Why don't you get the rats, put weights on them and set them loose? You kill pest and eliminate the threats to humans.

  7. 5:35 is so funny… I laughed and rolled… I know I'm going to hell for laughing, I know it!😂😂

  8. why not just drop a bunch of rocks on the minefields from planes once the area is buried in a few hundred lbs of rock the stone should have set off any mines

  9. The Apopo guy had given a TED talk years ago. At the time it sounded promising, but wasn't employed at scale. Glad to hear that it has been a successful and expanding program since.

  10. are these rats domesticated? or are they just naturally easily trained? the things seem smart enough to be house pets

  11. «together with traditional minesweepong techniques mozambique was declared mine free»
    etc etc
    Wouldn’t that sentence in essence mean traditional methods could have cleared like 99.99%?

  12. Every animal, insect, or living thing on earth is an angel and a blessing for human. We are still existing today because of them.

  13. tuberculosis rats wouldnt spread tuberculosis to all the people they touch? if they happen to find someone with it and then touch someone else?

  14. Karma. Rats have killed countless millions by inadvertently hosting fleas. Now for a few million Lbs of treats they could potentially help save millions of lives. Got to love nature.

  15. I dont recall announcing that the land in Mozambique is free of mines, but they never do announce good stuff by the government…

  16. My job (amongst a kajillion) is to seek out, like a hero rat, intelligence in YT. Finding intelligent stories of heroes is a bonus. Aloha.

  17. Cant stop tkinking, that we all comes from Africa, 200.000 years ago, and they have lived there longer then any place on earth,. And they just destroyed the land and them self,.,. They must be insanely stupid

  18. I thought the rats be used to trigger the mines. And I was ready to make a joke that was a reasonable reaction to rats. But now I pro rats

  19. here’s how: they used rats and cleared a mine field that’s how

    no need for a 8 minute video, “that’s how” 😂

  20. yeah, except i would bet you anything no one is putting any sun block on their ears, or feeding them or taking care of them, they are prolly just shoved in cages until they cant work anymore and then they eat them or something else terrible, they dont care at all about the rats, no one ever does. i mean maybe one place does all that , but not all places will , we can't even have fuckin day cares in america where human children are safe, so i doubt rats have it that good in a janky place like Africa

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