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Elephants, the giants from Africa, sniff out explosives

Chishuru, had one job, to find out which bucket contained traces of an explosive. The 17 year old male elephant, walked past a row of buckets, of which one had a trace of TNT, when he found the bucket using his excellent sense of smell, he then raised his right leg signalling the find and received a treat of marula fruit.


Close up of elephant.

In Bela-Bela, a small town north of Pretoria, researchers conducted smelling tests on the largest land animal on Earth, elephants. These magnificent animals, were able to pick up on the scent of explosives 73 out of 74 times from a line of buckets. The elephants scored 23 out of 23 in the second bunch of tests, when odors such as tea, bleach, soap and gasoline, acting as distractions, were used.

The team of researchers, have proven that these giants have the ability to sniff out explosives with their powerful sense of smell. Despite this skill, fortunately it is not the intention to put the lives of elephants at risk on the battlefield to whiff out the deadly explosives.
It was first noticed that the giants of Africa could detect explosives in Angola, after returning following a war in the year 2002, which had left undetonated mines scattered across the land.

Baby elephant.

Researchers wanted to figure out why elephants were avoiding certain areas within the country. They believed it was one of the two; the elephants could smell the explosives or they avoided the areas where elephants had lost their lives in previous blasts.

The researches joined forces with the United States army, both with their own part to play. Researchers were on a mission to find out exactly how elephants smell, while the army engineers still plan to apply what’s been learnt to electronic sensors. The idea that the army has is to have a team of engineers design a sensor based on the trunk of an elephant; a trunk puffs out air, which in turn stirs up an area and then sucks the air back in to smell.
An elephant backside. 

Elephants have an extraordinary sense of smell with around 2,000 genes for picking up scents, more than any other animal on Earth. Their nostrils are found at the tip of the trunk and help with breathing, smelling and sucking in water to squirt into their mouths. Elephant trunks are constantly being used, swinging back and forth, picking up new scents.While dogs and rats are also able to sniff out explosives, an elephant can detect the smell of an explosive from a 100 metres away.

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