Apopo: Training detection HEROrats to save lives
There are still many millions of active landmines in more than 60 countries causing life-threatening accidents. Most of the victims are children. Apopo trains HeroRATs to save lives and limbs by using their exceptional sense of smell to sniff out unexploded landmines. To date more than 4.5 million square meters of mine-free land has been secured by Apopo and HeroRATS which can be utilized for farming and infrastructure.
Over 2,060 landmines found and destroyed, over 4.5 million square meters of mine-free land cleared.
Communities impacted by the landmine issue, who will benefit immensely from more efficient mine action services.
One HeroRAT can be trained in a period of nine months, and their life span is 6-8 years. This means a solid return on the investment in training time and associated costs, as each HeroRAT could continue working in mine action programs for 4 years (conservatively).
The impact of clearing land and returning it to communities is huge, and has long-lasting benefits. When land is demined, communities can use their land safely again, for farming, infrastructure, and to open the doors for development. People can pass freely on their way to work, school or farms, without fear of an area.
The idea of training rats for landmine detection is an innovative and locally-appropriate solution to the global landmine problem. APOPO utilizes a local resource, the African Giant Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus) for its detection technology. Using these rats as detectors is advantageous due to their efficiency in this role, and their acute sense of smell. Other benefits include their low cost, ease of transport and their wide availability. Moreover, it is an appropriate initiative since it does not depend on high tech equipment or highly skilled labour, increasing its accessibility in the countries of operation and building capacity in local communities.
APOPO breeds African giant pouched rats and has plans to expand in future to countries outside the target region of this project. There are many possibilities for future applications of APOPO’s detection rats technology, which are currently being explored in further detail.
Source of funding
APOPO is funded through individual donations, corporate gifts, technical and research grants, philanthropic contributions and government grants for operational mine clearance.