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Home » Rats That Sniff Out Landmines and TB: Bart Weetjens at TEDxBratislava (Transcript)

Rats That Sniff Out Landmines and TB: Bart Weetjens at TEDxBratislava (Transcript)

Bart Weetjens at TEDxBratislava


All right. So we get a lot of crazy ideas here and I’m coming with maybe even a more crazy idea.

We train rats, to save human lives, by detecting landmines and tuberculosis. I brought a live rat here. It’s not really a live one but it’s actually an example of a giant rat. And that’s what we train. We train giant rats.

And this may seem really crazy to you but actually it’s an example of what the professor in the school earlier expressed, it’s actually a good example of a design process.

Because this may sound crazy to you at first glance but in practice, if you look at the situation, the context in which these rats are used, then it may make a lot of sense.

All of this approach is actually based on the empathy, based on putting ourselves in the situation of subsistance farmers in Africa. Families like these who actually cannot access their farmland, they cannot fetch water, or it’s perilous to fetch water, it’s perilous to fetch firewood, because of the danger of exploding landmines.

And really, this brings us to the problem.

Most of these communities are at the bottom of the pyramid, living in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia. They are actually affected by undetected threats. And tuberculosis is one of those threats, landmines is another one. And these two particular threats, this organization I founded, Apopo, is working on.

Because we believe, that actually it is possible, if we utilize resources in our own environment, that we can come to solutions which are much more sustainable than what is often imposed from outside. And, let me go at once to how this system works.

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