The Anti-Personnel Landmines Removal Product, or APOPO, is a certified non-profit dedicated to saving lives and reclaiming land from land mines in Cambodia, Thailand, and six other countries. They rely on a unique tool for locating buried land mines: Giant African Pouched Rats.
APOPO was founded in 1997 by Bart Weetjens, a Belgian product designer who was searching for a more affordable way to help clear landmines. As an owner of pet rats, he knew that they were intelligent, social creatures with a keen sense of smell, and reasoned that they could be trained to detect buried landmines, small arms, and unexploded ordnance.
The group’s HeroRATs, as they call them, are specially trained to sniff out mines (and tuberculosis). They can smell as little as one trillionth of a gram of TNT a meter deep in the ground. This incredible nonprofit has drastically increased both safety and productivity in the finding of unexploded ordnance. An area the size of a tennis field would take a human about four days to search, while the same area can be covered in 30 minutes by one rat.
The APOPO Visitor Center is centrally located, and shares a variety of engaging and powerful history within the Vietnam War and the different global roles within this war. Visitors can see a rat in action, watch an educational video, and hold one of the many trained super-rats at this location in Siem Reap.
Know Before You Go
Check the APOPO website for information about tours and visiting hours.