A type of giant rats are being trained to help clear the world of deadly landmines and even they can even sniff out tuberculosis!
Giant rats are helping rid the world of two deadly threats: landmines and tuberculosis
Many people are either terrified or disgusted by rats, but perhaps we’re being a little unfair on them. For the past 20 years Tanzanian non-profit APOPO’s scent detection rats have been saving countless lives by detecting both landmines and the deadly disease tuberculosis. Their handlers were surprised to discover they quickly formed strong bonds with these intelligent and sensitive rodents.
Apopo: training rats to save lives
For the past 20 years APOPO’s scent detection rats have been detecting landmines and tuberculosis in many countries around the world.
The Problem: Over 60 countries are contaminated with hidden landmines and other explosive remnants of war, that cause tragic accidents and hamper communities from developing their productive land. Meanwhile, slow and inaccurate detection methods make tuberculosis the world’s most deadly infectious disease. 10 million new people contract TB every year, with 3 million going undiagnosed, and 1.8 million dying from the disease.
The Solution: The APOPO scent detection rats, nicknamed ‘HeroRATs’, help to rid the world of landmines and tuberculosis –returning safe land back to communities for development, and freeing people from serious illness so they can get back on their feet.
Apopo addresses global issues through research, development and deployment of scent detection technology at its training and research center in Tanzania and seven other countries.
Apopo’s landmines detection rats ignore scrap metal and only detect explosive scent, making them much faster at finding landmines than metal detectors.
Landmines not only cause tragic accidents, they are a barrier to development, constraining communities and denying access to fertile land, travel routes and basic needs. APOPO’s HeroRATs are too light to detonate the landmines and are very quick at finding them, making them a perfect “tool” for speeding up detection and clearance.
Using an integrated approach of survey, machines and metal detectors, plus the mine detection rats, APOPO and partners quickly release safe land so that people can get their lives back on track.
Detecting tuberculosis remains one of the biggest challenges facing medical professionals. Apopos’s TB detection rats can check 100 samples for tuberculosis in 20 minutes; the same task would take a lab technician up to 4 days. Suspect samples are re-checked using LED fluorescence microscopy.
Apopo’s researches detection rats as a “failsafe” – examining clinic tested human sputum samples delivered from partner clinics in Tanzania and Mozambique. Any rat-suspect samples are rechecked using WHO endorsed methods and if TB is confirmed, Apopo notifies the clinic.
Research indicates that Apopo could be improving clinic detection rates by up to 40%.
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Adopt or gift a HeroRAT and help people to live, work, and play without fear or disease
There are nearly 300 HeroRATs under Apopo’s care. Your support ensures they're treated like the heroes they are. Landmines and tuberculosis kill. Your support enables people to live, work, and play without fear. APOPO empowers people and communities. Your support helps create jobs and improves economic and environmental conditions.