Mozambique land cleared of civil war landmines by trained rats

MOZAMBIQUE: Almost 310,000 square meters (31 hectares) of Mozambique land was cleared this year of landmines left during the 16 year old civil war using pouched rats, said Belgian demining company Apopo, which is heading the project.

The operations this year brings the total land cleared by Apopo to more than one million square meters in the southern Mozambique province of Gaza, Bart Weetjens, founder of Antwerp- based Apopo said in an e-mailed statement Dec 24. “Our demining heroes, human and rat alike, found 182 landmines, 248 explosive remnants of war, and 3,871 small arms and ammunition.”

At least 1,074 people in southern Gaza managed to return to their homes after the landmines were removed, he said. The civil war ended in 1992. African pouched rats, so called because of their cheek pouches used to carry food, can grow up to three feet (1 meter) in length and have an acute sense of smell, according to the African Pouched Rats Web site. -- Bloomberg


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