Giant Rats Prepare to Demine Cambodia’s Notorious K5 Belt

Collection with 18 media items created by George Nickels ★★★★

Sim Reap, Cambodia 26 Apr 2015 00:00

Cambodia is still one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world.

A recent Baseline Survey of 124 districts revealed that 1,914,818 m2 of land surface is contaminated by landmines and ERW. In addition, at least 26 million explosive submunitions were dropped on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, mostly in Eastern and North-Eastern areas bordering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. The bombing is estimated to have left between 1.9 million and 5.8 million cluster munitions remnants.

Belgian NGO Apopo, who have been training African giant poached rats in Tanzania, Angolo and Mozambique to detect explosives and tuberculosis, they recently invited me to document their training process as 3 mine detection rat (MDR) handlers drafted from Africa, taught a CMAC demining platoon how to locate landmines and UXO using African giant poached rats. After 6 months training the platoon will be fully operational and demining with the MDR's on one of the most densely mined swathes of land on earth. Cambodia is still one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world. A recent Baseline Survey of 124 districts revealed that 1,914,818 m2 of land surface is contaminated by landmines and ERW. In addition, at least 26 million explosive submunitions were dropped on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, mostly in Eastern and North-Eastern areas bordering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. The bombing is estimated to have left between 1.9 million and 5.8 million cluster munitions remnants.   Belgian NGO Apopo, who have been training African giant poached rats in Tanzania, Angolo and Mozambique to detect explosives and tuberculosis, invited me to document their training process as 3 mine detection rat (MDR) handlers drafted from Africa, taught a CMAC demining platoon how to locate landmines and UXO using African giant poached rats. After 6 months training the platoon will be fully operational and demining with the MDR's on one of the most densely mined swathes of land on earth.

The demining project between CMAC and Apopo will be targeting 6 Northwestern districts close to the infamous “K5 belt”.

The K5 is one of the densest concentrations of mines on the planet and causes a significant proportion of Cambodia’s mine casualties. The K5 runs along the entire 750km length of the Cambodia-Thai border. In partnership with CMAC, land is released (through demining and survey) for casualty reduction, agriculture, resettlement and other infrastructure development (roads, wells, ponds and schools).

The release of land allows poor, rural people access to land which was previously contaminated so that they can now safely grow their rice and other crops to feed their families. In addition Mine Risk Education is delivered in communities aimed at reducing the risk of injury and death from mines and other ERW.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Cambodia Rats De Mining Former Confl... Public Health Cmac Mine Detecti... Unexploded O... Health Hazards

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 01
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Sean Veana 40 has been a deminer with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre for the past 20 years. When I questioned him regarding his experiences as a mine technician, he told me of 2 colleagues who had recently been injured, one in Kampong Thom Province had lost both his arms, the other man had been left blind when a mine exploded shattering the visor on his protective helmet. Both men received $2000 compensation. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 02
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Mao Sophea 25 has been working as a deminer in Cambodia with the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) for the last 5 years, she will soon be a fully operation Mine Detection Rat (MDR) handler and relocated to one of Cambodia's most heavily mined Northwestern districts in Oddar Meanchey Province, close to the infamous “K5 belt”. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 03
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimates that there may be as many as four to six million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. The social consequences of the landmines in Cambodia are extremely serious. A high percentage of the population has been killed by mines, which affects entire families. "ICRC statistics claim that only 25% of mine victims arrive at hospital within 6 hours of being injured with 15% having to travel for more than 3 days before they reach a hospital. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 04
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

A CMAC team member collects his mine detection rat (MDR) from its cage before going to the minefield. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 05
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Lawrence Kombani, forty year old father of three has been training African giant poached rats or MDR's (Mine detection rats) to locate land mines and UXO for the past fifteen years. He has left his family in Tanzania and moved to Cambodia to teach the CMAC DU4 team handling techniques and prepare them for live munitions. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 06
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Victoria a African giant poached mine detection rat (MDR), also dubbed a (hero rat) is taken for a walk on her training lead. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 07
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Apopo team members discuss the dangers of locating and disarming Chinese made AP72 anti personnel land mines that contribute to the estimated four to six million unexploded UXO and mines that still litter the rural landscape throughout Cambodia. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 08
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

CMAC team members learn how to handle mine detection rats. The MDRs sniff out explosive chemicals like TNT in landmines and ignore the scrap metal that metal detectors pick up. This makes them extremely fast landmine detectors. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 09
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

So Malen, 24, has been working clearing land mines and (UXO) unexploded ordnance from Svey Rieng Province, Cambodia for the last five years. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 10
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

One MDR can search up to 200 square meters in 20 minutes; this would take a technician with a metal detector 1-4 days depending on levels of scrap metal contamination. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 11
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Marcous is a giant African poached mine detection rat. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 12
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Apopo staff monitor a member of the CMAC demining platoon as he trains with a mine detection rat.(MDR). CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 13
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

The Cambodia Mine/UXO Victim Information System reported at least 64,314 landmine and unexploded ordnance casualties from 1979 to the end of 2013. Of these, 19,684 people were killed and 44,630 injured. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 14
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

A land owner signs paperwork supplied by CMAC allowing him to safely reclaim his estate after they successfully cleared the area of all forms of explosives and remnants of war. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 15
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

A land owner walks on his land for the first time since the K5 plan began on the 19th July 1984. In practice the K5 fence / belt consisted of a roughly 700 kilometre long, 500 metre wide stretch of land along the border with Thailand, where anti tank and antipersonnel mines were planted to a density of about 3,000 mines per kilometre of frontage. Moments before he signed paperwork supplied by CMAC allowing him to safely reclaim his estate after they successfully cleared the area of all forms of explosives and remnants of war. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 16
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

A fragmentation pit in the CMAC camp on a remote mine field in northeastern Cambodia. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 17
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Lawrence Kombani forty year old father of three has been training African giant poached rats or MDR's (Mine detection rats) to locate land mines and UXO for the past fifteen years. He has left his family in Tanzania after being transferred on a three month program to Cambodia to teach the CMAC DU4 team handling techniques and prepare them for live munitions. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Thumb sm
Mine Detecting Rats 18
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Apopo team manager Lordes discusses the problem of anti tank and anti personnel mines that still kill and maim Cambodia's people on a monthly basis. Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.