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APOPO Visitor Center - My Indie World

APOPO Visitor Center


APOPO Visitor Center

Play • Siem Reap

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APOPO Guided Tours
Experience the realities of humanitarian demining and how APOPO train rats to save lives. Book Now



The story of APOPO began in 1995 when Bart Weetjens, founder of the organization wondered if the rodents he used to keep as pets could be taught to sniff out landmines and other explosives. 20 years later, APOPO’s HeroRATs have cleared over 22 million m² of contaminated land and found over 50,000 explosive remnants of war in 6 countries.

According to the Landmine Monitor, Cambodia is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world with over 1, 000 km² of land surface still contaminated by landmines. It is estimated that many hundreds of thousands of landmines and other explosives continue to litter the countryside, presenting a major humanitarian and socioeconomic challenge. With over 40,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world.

Meet the HeroRats

Donning small harnesses, the rats scuttle close to the ground, their whiskers vibrating rapidly as they endeavor to detect explosives concealed beneath the soil. Periodically, a rat pauses and scratches the ground, indicating the discovery of an explosive. Their handler rewards them with a piece of fruit, often a banana, which they joyfully nibble on before resuming their important task.

Affectionately known as ‘HeroRats’, these rodents are undergoing training to identify landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), the perilous remnants of past conflicts.

However, these are not your ordinary rats; they are African giant pouched rats, also referred to as Gambian pouched rats. These impressive creatures can grow up to a meter in length and, despite their limited vision, possess an extraordinary sense of smell.

They are capable of detecting minute amounts of TNT, as little as 29 grams, leaving metal detectors far behind. In fact, these rats can search an area comparable to a tennis court in under 30 minutes, while it might take a human equipped with a metal detector up to four days.

Made With Love

Apopo’s landmines detection rats ignore scrap metal and only detect explosive scent, making them much faster at finding landmines than metal detectors.

Landmines not only cause tragic accidents, they are a barrier to development, constraining communities and denying access to fertile land, travel routes and basic needs in Cambodia. APOPO’s HeroRATs are too light to detonate the landmines and are very quick at finding them, making them a perfect “tool” for speeding up detection and clearance.

Using an integrated approach of survey, machines and metal detectors, plus the mine detection rats, APOPO and partners quickly release safe land so that people can get their lives back on track.

Sam is the Deputy Village Chief for Khnar Phtuol, near Siem Reap, Cambodia. For the last 20 years he and his wife had no choice but to farm their land. APOPO and the HeroRATs found 7 landmines in his fields.

Fuelled With Passion

A wonderful moment of mutual help during the preparations for a new working day of the team deployed in Preah Vihear province. Mutual help and support are some of the core values that characterize APOPO.

We are proud of what we do and of the way we do it!

Driven By Purpose

APOPO works meticulously to make land safe by clearing landmines and other explosives, so families living near minefields can rebuild their lives and children can play in safety. However, clearing minefields takes time. For families living surrounded by hidden dangers, Explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) is the best way to prevent casualties. It is important that nearby communities are taught how to stay safe.