New recruits ready to find landmines in Cambodia

HeroRAT reinforcements pass their accreditation tests.

This was an exciting week for the APOPO Mine Action Cambodia Team as a group of 9 additional Mine Detection Rats underwent accreditation for Mine Clearance in Cambodia. Today we are happy to report that all the rats successfully passed their tests!

The rats arrived from Tanzania at the end of April and were warmly welcomed by the Cambodian team.

Photo - Allan Staley

The HeroRATs the went through an intensive 6-week acclimatization and training period. This involved getting used to new sights, sounds and smells as well as getting to know their new Cambodian handlers and vice versa.

On June 12th-13th APOPO hosted representatives from the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) Headquarters, our long term implementation partner in Cambodia, for an external double-blind testing of the freshly trained and newly imported MDR. The two days of testing were held on a test minefield prepared by the CMAC representatives.

The accreditation is “double-blind” because both rats and the handlers are unaware of where the targets are buried, which are known only to the representatives who had them marked on a map. Each of the rats had to search a box of 200 square metres, and all of them correctly indicated the targets within a one-meter radius, with not a single one missed. This reflects the high level of mine detection skill of the MDR and their handlers as well as the quality of the breeding and training at APOPO’s Headquarters and training centre in Morogoro, Tanzania. 

Shafii Mahanyu, MDR Technical Advisor and a recent addition to the Cambodian team, said, “It is wonderful to see the work our training team in Tanzania put in, paying off. We have prepared a strong group of detection rats, which quickly acclimatised to this part of the world, and had no trouble at all passing this vital test."

With accreditation now out of the way, APOPO deployed the MDR to ongoing tasks in Preah Vihear and Siem Reap Provinces to help clear land that will used for expansion of the nearby villages and for agriculture.


APOPO sincerely thanks its partners and donors for making APOPO’s life-saving work in Cambodia possible.