Scholar: Matthew Hogan
Major: Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Ring
Research Topic: "Landmines in the Greater Horn of Africa: The Benefits of Using Gambian Rats for Landmine Removal"
Abstract: Even though nine of the ten governments in the Greater Horn of Africa have signed the Ottawa Treaty and have committed to removing the millions of landmines in their countries, the detection of landmines within the region remains a difficult task to accomplish. While landmines are used primarily as a weapon in warfare, civilians in the Greater Horn are greatly threatened by their presence. Landmines not only threaten the lives of billions in the Greater Horn, they contribute to many of the economic, environmental, public health, and political problems that also plague this part of the world.
The United States is one of several governments and non-governmental organizations assisting in the removal of landmines in the Greater Horn; however, this paper highlights how current technologies used by the US is insufficient at detecting the presence of landmines, as well as the need for the US to utilize more effective techniques in order to effectively detect landmines in the Greater Horn.
This paper argues that the United States should embrace Gambian Pouch Rats as "mine sniffers" that can smell mines and indicate their location to trainers. However, the US has held prejudice against Gambian Rats since they banned them in 2003. Nonetheless, the non-governmental organization APOPO, which developed the method of using these rats as mine detectors, has received enough funding from other sources to introduce this approach of mine detection on a small scale in the region. This program's success provides compelling evidence of the superiority of rat vapor technology over other mine detection techniques and the need for the US to support such methods.
By adopting this more effective and cost-efficient method of mine detection, the United States can better assist countries in the Greater Horn meet the objectives of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
Earned Baccalaureate Degree: Spring 2010