An army of giant rats saves lives...by John Converse Townsend. [View all]
It takes a true visionary to see a Buddhist monk deploying a pack of giant rats as the solution to the devastating danger posed by landmines.
Every few hours, another person is killed or maimed by a landmine. Even in areas removed from active conflict, landmines are more than just distressing reminders of former bloodshed -- they're hidden hazards that terrorize populations and freeze development.
Identifying, unearthing and disarming these explosives is dangerous and daunting. Despite record clearances, more countries deployed anti-personnel mines last year than in any year since 2004.
But one social innovator has risen to the challenge -- with the help of a few hundred friends. The innovator is the industrial engineer, Buddhist monk and Ashoka Fellow Bart Weetjens.
His hundreds of friends are sub-Saharan Africa's giant pouched rats. About three feet long and armed with a powerful sense of smell, these rats might just be humanity's best hope for moving forward with confidence.