02 March 2015, 13:15 – 14:15
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Room 121, Biology Building, Braamfontein Campus East
Hundreds of thousands of landmines were deployed throughout Angola during almost two decades worth of civil war. Now, as wildlife begins to recolonise this once war torn country, animals face a very real and lethal threat from unexploded landmines. Anecdotal reports together with telemetry data from five collared African elephants (Loxodonta africana) suggest that elephants have learned to successfully avoid minefields. This raised the question as to whether African elephants are able to detect TNT using olfaction. The scientists tested this hypothesis using three trained African elephants and subsequently demonstrate their capacity as potential biosensors for landmine detection. This seminar is hosted by the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences.