Appropriate Technology: Rats Helping Humans
Posted on September 1, 2010 Comments (3)
Giant rats put noses to work on Africa’s land mine epidemic by Eliott C. McLaughlin
Prejudice against rats is “deep in our psyche” and has roots in the Middle Ages when the rodents were blamed for the plague, Weetjens said. He quickly cited Black Death’s rightful culprit: fleas.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines says land mines and related devices were responsible for 73,576 casualties worldwide from 1999 to 2009. Campaign data from 2007 say there were 5,426 recorded casualties, with almost a fifth of them in 24 African countries.
The cost to train a rat is 6,000 euros ($7,700), roughly a third of what it costs to train a dog. Where dogs need expansive kennel facilities and regular veterinary care because of African climates, APOPO’s kennel facilities at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania, can house up to 300 rats. The rats see a single vet once a week and are much easier to transport than dogs, Weetjens said.
It is very sad what people do to each (setting up land mines to blow each other up for example). Thankfully we also do great things. I particularly like the engineering mindset behind appropriate technology solutions as I have written many times. They are also looking to have rats help detect tb and cancers. You can fund a rat for 5 Euros (about $6.5) a month to help free the world of landmines.
See a video of a rat at work: