APOPO is a non-government organization (NGO) that has a unique approach to helping the people of Cambodia.
There are still approximately 5 million landmines presently unexploded as the result of war – and APOPO uses Giant African Rats to detect these dangerous bombs.
Nicknamed the “Hero Rats” and with their extraordinary sense of smell, they have the ability to sniff out landmines that are still buried.
The size of a small cat their training ground is in Tanzania, where the Hero Rats start their boot camp and the whole training process takes about 9 months to complete.
They are light enough to walk over the mines, without setting them off and with their acute sense of smell, can detect explosives very quickly.
Once the landmine has been detected, they with scratch at the surface of the ground to indicate to their handlers the location.
Finding these hidden explosives is both challenging and dangerous – the site is then marked, and the landmine is later detonated by using the correct equipment.
APOPO employs 209 people and has 5 projects in 4 countries including Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia to rid rural areas of landmines. However still approximately 3,000 people are effected by stepping on mines each year, but thanks to organizations like APOPO – this number is reducing.
Not only are the Hero Rats able to detect explosives but amazingly – they can also sniff out Tuberculosis. With their incredible ability, they are able to screen hundreds of samples within only a 20 minute period, which would otherwise take a lab technician 4 days to complete.
A quicker and effective method of detecting cases, 45% more infected people have been discovered – which potentially has the ability to halt a further 62,000 cases of TB spreading.
The Hero Rats to date have evaluated over 370,000 sample and detected approximately 10,000 cases, which went undiscovered through using conventional lab testing.
APOPO is currently underway designing a fully operational mobile lab, which can visit vulnerable populations that do not have access to adequate health care.
If you would like to learn more about APOPO, please visit our website.