Landmine Detection Rat Refresher Training Seminar 2019

By Dr. Cindy Fast | APOPO Head of Training & Behavioral Research

Experienced and rookie rat trainers undergo refresher training in Tanzania.

While welcoming 5 new trainers to our training and research team at our headquarters in Morogoro, Tanzania, our landmine detection rat (MDR) training supervisors seized the opportunity to conduct annual refresh training and renew the internal accreditation of our existing MDR trainers.

In conjunction with these activities, a special seminar was held on January 8th on the campus of our partner Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). The seminar included a lively Q&A with the APOPO attending veterinarian from SUA, Dr. Katekweba, about rat health and welfare and featured a report of current operations and pipeline developments for mine action activities in our Cambodia operations.

The Cambodia presentation was led by APOPO’s Senior Technical Advisor from Cambodia, Mark Shukuru, who just happened to be in Morogoro on personal holiday.

“I’m happy to come to events like this and work together with the team because training the rats is what it’s all about.”

Mark spoke with the trainers about what it’s like to work in a real minefield with live explosives and how the rats are used to clear the areas and return the safe land back to the people of Cambodia.

In total, 25 members of the MDR training team were in attendance for the seminar, including six members of the training supervisor team and the Head of Training and Research and Development, Dr. Cindy Fast. Fast encouraged the team to remain focused during daily training with the rats, “practice alone is not enough to make perfection, perfect practices leads to perfection and our rats need to be perfect” she said as the team nodded in agreement. Following the seminar, the team huddled for a group picture where quality assurance manager, Judith Karue proclaimed, “together as one team!

APOPO is grateful for the generous support provided for our mine detection rat training program.