Trained African Giant Pouched Rats have become an unlikely hero in the fight against landmines and tuberculosis, and most recently, in the effort to combat illegal wildlife trade.
The rats, which are native to sub-Saharan Africa, have an exceptional sense of smell and have been trained by researchers to detect the scent of TNT, a chemical commonly used in landmines and explosives, as well as tuberculosis in human sputum samples.
Over the years, these rats have been deployed to minefields across Africa and have helped to detect and clear thousands of unexploded landmines and bombs. They have also been used to detect tuberculosis in medical clinics, where they can screen samples much faster than human technicians.
Most recently, researchers have been training these rats to sniff out poached wildlife trophies that are being exported out of African ports. The rats are being taught to detect the scent of ivory, rhino horn, and other illegally traded animal products.
The African Giant Pouched Rats are an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution to these issues. They are much less likely to set off a landmine than humans or machinery, and their use in detecting tuberculosis is much cheaper and faster than traditional methods. Using rats to detect poached wildlife products can also help curb the illegal trade and protect endangered species.
It’s amazing to see how these tiny creatures have become such an important part of solving some of the world’s biggest problems. The continued development and use of these rats in important conservation and humanitarian efforts will undoubtedly save many lives and make a significant impact.
To learn more about African Giant Pouched Rats, check out this Wikipedia page.