These amazing rats are helping to locate and destroy landmines in Cambodia

It's been a busy morning for Cletus, Meynard, Victoria and others of their furry band.

Tiny noses and long whiskers twitching, they've scurried and sniffed their way across 775 square metres of fields to eliminate a scourge that has killed thousands of Cambodians: land mines.

Sent from Africa, the rats began their task in north-west Cambodia early this month and have already scored tangible results.

Two hectares have been declared mine-free around this village where more than 15 people have been killed or wounded by the explosives, forcing some to abandon their homes and rice fields and seek jobs elsewhere.

On a recent morning, the African giant pouched rats were working two suspected, taped-off minefields.

Each rodent wore a harness connected to a rope strung out in a straight line between two handlers standing about five metres apart and outside the danger zone.

The rodents then darted from one handler to the other, constantly sniffing the ground.

One villager, Khun Mao, says the rats have been sniffing for suspected mines in a rice field he had been afraid to cultivate for years.

He says that although it is too soon to say whether the rodents can remove every mine, "to me, these rats are wonderful".


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