APOPO is an innovative organization that uses trained detection HeroRATs to tackle a surprising combination of humanitarian challenges. Their approach to using these rats for landmine and tuberculosis detection is based on scientific research and their methods are well documented for easy replication. APOPO’smethods are innovative, interesting, and ground-breaking. Tackling such diverse problems as health issues and landmine removal requires a powerful combination of skills and provides much-needed services for these communities.
The idea to use rats in mine detection was thoroughly researched in the mid- to late 1990s through a number of feasibility and scientific studies. The research proves this approach is not only interesting but also effective. The studies also included selecting the proper species to train for the project. The landmine program is functioning in four countries on two continents and has detected and deactivated more than 19,500 landmines, returning more than 23,600,000 acres of safe land to local communities. The giant trained rats used for landmine detection are too light to set off the landmines, so they are not put in danger by this work.
The tuberculosis detection program has identified more than 14,700 cases of TB beyond what traditional methods diagnosed. The detection method does not put rats or technicians in danger of contracting TB. All the rats live in enriching environments where they receive high quality food, stimulation, and interact with trained handlers, none of which ends with retirement.
We can safely farm again and our children can play without fear.
APOPO exemplifies finding innovative and evidence-based interventions for the world’s problems. FBB is proud to support this outstanding organization.