APOPO - meeting the rats who change lives

APOPO is based a few minutes out of the city center and is a must-see if you are interested in the delicate history of Cambodia, as well as curious about how they are trying to solve many problems that followed the Vietnam war and Khmer Rouge.

They are a Belgian NGO that has developed an ingenious system deploying African giant pouched rats that can detect tuberculosis or landmines with their exceptional sense of smell. They’re known as HeroRATs, and they are nothing short of exceptional.

In 2018 alone 12 minefields of 1,1 million sqm (160 football fields), filled with 143 landmines and 142 unexploded objects were found, neutralized and cleared.

Currently, there are only 29 rats at APOPO, but 10 more will be arriving later in February, and a further 20 in March, so there will be a total of 59 HeroRATs covering the hundreds of landmine fields across Cambodia, clearing the land and allowing the local villagers to reclaim the earth for cultivation.