May 12, 2010

Heroic Rats Sniff Out Landmines

For the past seven years, Bart Weetjens has been running a unique lab in Tanzania, where he trains rats to sniff out deadly unexploded land mines. The unexploded mines are the terrible legacy of countless bloody conflicts in Tanzania. Although dogs have traditionally been used around the world to help humans detect mines, Weetjens realized that rats are lighter, cheaper to maintain and less susceptible to tropical disease. They are also intelligent and trainable.

“I’ve always felt a very strong bonding with rodents,” he says. In “Hero Rats,” (FRONTLINE) Alexis Bloom accompanies Weetjens to work in Mozambique to watch his trained rodents in action. She also visits a school there that was cleared of land mines with the help of the rats, allowing the children to resume their education and play without fear of stepping on an unexploded mine. “They save human lives,” Weetjens says of the rats, "and, yes, they are heroes." The Weetjens project and heroic rats certainly give new meaning to the phrase "Oh, rats!"

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. Be respectful of others.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.