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How rats become heroes in Africa

African giant pouched rats can be trained to sniff out the explosives in landmines. Belgian non-governmental organisation APOPO is using the huge rodents to assist in a programme that aims to eradicate mines from Mozambique by the end of this year.

There are currently 59 countries around the world that contain landmines or other explosive remnants of war. These hazards prevent development and economic growth long after conflict ends.

The mine detection rats, also called HeroRATs, are usually tethered to a guide rope suspended between two handlers. They are then used to methodically sweep a demarcated hazardous zone, scratching at the ground if they smell explosives.