APOPO is a non-profit organization based in Tanzania that trains African giant pouched rats, nicknamed ‘HeroRATs’, to save lives by detecting landmines and tuberculosis using their remarkable sense of smell
squared meters of land released to local communities
people freed from the threat of explisives
potential tuberculosis infections halted
Landmines caused around 3,000 tragic accidents in 2016 and cause an immense negative impact on the development of mine-contaminated countries such as Angola and Mozambique, acting as a barrier to access to prime agricultural land, basic needs such as water, and safe routes for markets and education.
Using a combination of HeroRATs, deminers with metal detectors and machines, APOPO can quickly detect and safely dispose of any existing landmine, reducing accidents and quickly returning people to their land in order to kick-start their war-torn economies. The HeroRATs ignore scrap metal and only detect explosive scent so they are much faster at detecting landmines than the conventional method of using metal detectors. In fact, one HeroRAT can search up to 200 square meters in 20 minutes – this would take a manual deminer with a metal detector up to 4 days. Trained detection rats can also quickly and accurately sniff out tuberculosis in human sputum samples, evaluating 40 sputum samples in just seven minutes, equal to what a skilled lab technician will do in 7 hours
Since 2012 our support to APOPO allowed the training of Mine Detection Rats (HeroRATs) in Tanzania and landmine clearance operations in Angola. This made APOPO’s HeroRATs help clear an area in Angola, at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, a year ahead of schedule. To date, APOPO has found and destroyed 105,004 landmines releasing over 21 million square meters of land for local communities
Based in Tanzania, APOPO currently employs 190 people (principally locals) across 5 projects in 4 countries – Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia. APOPO has recently signed agreements to detect tuberculosis in Ethiopia and landmines in Zimbabwe
APOPO Head of Mine Action
“Through the generous support of the Only The Brave foundation, APOPO has saved lives and transformed minefields in Angola into productive farmland and thriving communities. We are proud to share our success with OTB foundation and we look forward to protecting more lives and restoring livelihoods together.”
“Until recently, we thought there might be landmines here. In fact APOPO found there were no landmines at all and our land has not been used for over 20 years. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This is the problem with landmines, no one knows where they are. How could we know that our land was actually safe? Would you take the risk?”
Director of school, Ngola Luije
“The military camp was very close to the school and after the war we had to be very careful with the children. The minefield was strictly off limits but children play and when your back is turned they do silly things. Often they would kick a football into the minefield and if we weren’t around, they would nominate one of them to go into the undergrowth and retrieve it. APOPO found a landmine 20 meters away.”
APOPO Mine Detection Rat Supervisor
“The work that APOPO is doing is very impressive. They have given many communities their land back and over the years they have employed many people. In 2015 I was very proud that Mozambique was declared free of landmines because of my team’s hard work in the country. Now it can get back on its feet and start developing like it should have 20 years ago."