APOPO Siem Reap – The mine search rats in Siem Reap

APOPO Siem Reap – The mine search rats in Siem Reap

In the middle of Siem Reap is one of the most unusual visitor centers in the world: the APOPO Visitor Center. The organization has made it its primary goal to solve two problems of Cambodian society with the help of trained rats: The mine problem and the numerous diseases in the population from tuberculosis

Mine detection with APOPO’s African giant rats

For both issues, the affected people benefit from the rats’ fine sense of smell, which enables them to sniff out both the disease and the mines. Besides the obviously extremely innovative idea, the Visitor Center also offers an exciting insight into the reality of life of the Cambodians.
During a visit to APOPO Siem Reap, it is probably the demonstration of the skills of the four-legged lifesavers that leaves the greatest impression. In front of an astonished audience, the rats show how they can seemingly effortlessly detect hidden mines and indicate them to their human.

Donations for APOPO are possible here (external link to APOPO)

In addition to the work in the fight against the mining of the country, APOPO has also set itself the goal of providing education about the dangers of mines. Especially for interested tourists who have not yet come to grips with the manifold problems that a war in which landmines are used still entails many decades later, the visit is probably quite informative, sometimes even shocking. However, it can be said that the tour itself is designed in such a way that it is also suitable for children without any problems. Especially for delicate minds, for example, the visit is certainly much more bearable than, say, a visit to the Killing Fields

Through the money that the center earns from the guided tours for tourists, the project can still be kept running and enables especially the Cambodian rural population to have a somewhat normal working day (due to the fact that it will still take decades until all mines in Cambodia have been traced, and many of them are hiding in the rice fields, for example, where the unprotected civilian population does their work every day) by being able to secure their working areas in advance with the help of the rats.

All in all, the visit to APOPO Siem Reap is certainly one to remember. In addition to the obvious “entertainment factor” of seeing the rats at work, visitors also learn a lot about the country and its people, and can get an even better sense of how historical events still resonate with the lives of Cambodia’s women residents to this day.

The guided tours on site are offered in English, so it is recommended to bring at least a basic knowledge of the language in order to be able to follow the content details of the lecture well.