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Animal minesweepers


Dogs, ‘HeroRats’ and even bees help clear dangerous minefields.


Fifty years is the amount of time a mine remains dangerous. Activists believe there are tens of millions of still-active mines in 80 countries around the world, mostly in developing nations. The worst affected are Afghanistan, Cambodia, ex-Yugoslavia and 25 Sub-Saharan African countries, with Mozambique, Angola and Rwanda topping the list.

Another 200 million mines are currently stored in military stockpiles. Every year, 26,000 people are killed by mines and unexploded devices worldwide: 90% are civilians and 20% of these are children. Every 20 minutes someone somewhere in the world is killed by a mine. Animals – either pets or livestock – are often killed by mines too, and their ranks occasionally include Arms and Explosives Search (AES) dogs, specially trained to hunt out the devices.

In April, the BBC reported the posthumous military decoration of Sasha, a four-year-old Labrador trained by the British Army to root out mines, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 alongside her trainer, Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe.

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