As the laboratory rat is one of the most widely studied animals, the abundance of research on its olfactory capabilities is not surprising. However, very little information can be found on their landmine detection abilities. Consequently, in late 2015, GICHD conducted a study of APOPO’s Mine Detection Rat (MDR) programs in Angola, Mozambique and Cambodia.
The aim of the study was to focus on the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the MDR, as well as to determine compliance with the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). Within the sector, MDR suffer from a cynical perception of scent detection as a result of the inaccurate and unfair reputation of mine detection dogs (MDD) in the early days of mine action. General skepticism towards MDD was a result of programs that had failed in their use. However, the capability of the management to implement MDD operations within these programs was never questioned and consequently, the dogs were unfairly held responsible for the overall program failures.