Rats: Life is cheap

KINSHASA, April 4 - A violent row over a giant rat led to the killing of two Mai Mai militia members in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Nord-Kivu province, Radio Okapi reported today.
One of the militiamen caught the huge rat, valued for its tender flesh, in a field where his fellow patrolman shot him dead to get the animal for himself, the UN-sponsored radio station reported.
The head of that group of Resistant Congolese Patriots (Pareco) then gave orders that the murderer be tortured'' and the man died as a result of his injuries’’, according to the news report.
The radio identified the disputed beast as a giant Gambia rat, an African animal that measures up to 75 cm long and is bred for food in some countries.
The Gambia rat also has such a fine sense of smell that it has proved a useful ally in detecting anti-personnel mines.
Initial work in using rodents for mine clearance was backed by the Belgian Directorate for International Co-operation, and a non-commercial agency, APOPO, works jointly with Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture on the project.
APOPO’s website (apopo.org) gives further details, including of a successful field test in Mozambique in 2004.