Apply to Join
Oct 3, 2019

HeroRATs in America & Other Updates!

Celine at Point Defiance Zoo, Washington.
Celine at Point Defiance Zoo, Washington.

Hello and thank you for your continued support. We're delighted to bring you the following update on Q3 of 2019 which has certainly been busy for humans and HeroRATs alike!

APOPO's HeroRATs make it in America

In July 2019 we were thrilled to introduce three very important ambassadors who travelled all the way from Tanzania to the United States - more specifically - to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which was the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations.

HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa took three flights to get to their new home at Tacoma, Washington in May. Before leaving they received all their vaccinations, and the long journey from Africa to America was broken up into shorter segments with regular checks along the way. They travelled thousands of miles away from home and took it all in stride. Yet again, the HeroRATs showed us how resilient they are as a species.

After getting ample time to rest up in quarantine under close monitoring from Zoo veterinarians, the rats were introduced to their new homes and their zoo caretakers. Once they were comfortable with the team and happy in their environment they were gradually introduced to short training sessions for their mock landmine training demonstration routines before having their debut in front of zoo visitors on July 20th.

Cultural Celebrations in Tanzania

The first week of August brought a celebration of agriculture in Tanzania and APOPO participated alongside partner the Sokoine University of Agriculture. The week celebrated important contributions from farmers to the Tanzanian economy and showcases new technologies, ideas, discoveries and alternative solutions that will help to improve the agricultural sector. Companies, NGOs, farmers, regional and local officials as well as the general public are drawn to see the latest developments and opportunities. The HeroRATs attracted a lot of attention and shone a spotlight on the lifesaving work APOPO does.

In Tanzania, rats are generally considered a destructive pest, ruining crops and getting into food stores. In fact, most farmers will usually try to get rid of them when found on their land. It’s always good to have the opportunity to show people that rats are intelligent creatures that are very capable of saving lives. The exhibition allowed APOPO to inform local communities about the rats, but also the issues they are helping to solve such as the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) and breaking the stigma that is associated with the disease. Highlights were a visit from the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Japhet Hasunga and also the Acting Regional Medical Officer of Simiyu Dr. Maeka who expressed great interest in our TB detection research.

APOPO presents HeroRATs at CITES Conference

Between 17-28 August 2019, our partner Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa and APOPO attended the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in Geneva, Switzerland. CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The objective of the Convention is to conserve wildlife and prevent international trade from pushing species into extinction.

APOPO established a partnership with the EWT in 2016 to collaborate on a proof-of-concept research study to examine the abilities of the HeroRATs to detect the world’s most widely trafficked mammal, pangolin, as well as illegally logged and trafficked African hardwood. APOPO has finished the first phase of the study successfully showing that the rats are not only able to sniff out pangolin scales and hardwood but that they can differentiate them from common masking items.

With international momentum to tackle illegal wildlife trade continuing to grow, over 2200 participants met at the world’s most important wildlife trade meeting – the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). APOPO’s Dr Miriam Schneider travelled to Geneva to attend the conference and was given the unique opportunity to present the findings of the study at a side event of the conference: “Harnessing tools and technologies for wildlife law enforcement”.

Dr Schneider was able to promote APOPO’s work on a broad international platform and gain a better grasp of the current situation and developments in the wildlife trade. It also offered a chance to network with wildlife law enforcement officials and NGOs that could help to decide possible future methods for the rats to combat trafficking in real-life settings.

Little by Little Successes

In September 2019 we participated in Global Giving's Little by Little campaign which saw an outpouring of donations via the platform. Our incredible donors raised us to pole position where we stayed until closing which meant we won an additional $4,000 in bonus payments from Global Giving meaning the total amount raised was $21,635! We cannot thank you enough for the generous donations received, all of which will go towards funding the lifesaving work we carry out on a daily basis. 

Thank you for being wonderful supporters.

APOPO staff show off HeroRATs at agriculture shows
APOPO staff show off HeroRATs at agriculture shows
APOPO's Dr Schneider presents at CITES conference
APOPO's Dr Schneider presents at CITES conference
Jul 18, 2019

JULY 18th BONUS DAY! Get more for your buck.

As we referenced in our last project update, Global Giving's July Bonus Day TODAY and we wanted to remind you of the opportunity to make your donation count for more, without any extra cost to you.


For TODAY ONLY from 09:00:00 ET to 23:59:59 ET your eligible donations from $100 to $1000 will be matched whilst $250,000 in matching funds remain. 


Your donations through Global Giving go directly towards supporting our HeroRATs as they carry out their lifesaving missions across the world. With so many countries still facing the threat of landmines and tuberculosis, your continued support is of great importance to us as we continue our fight against these indiscriminate killers. 


The work you fund goes to support people like Historia and you can read her story below:

"I remember growing up during the war. Those were terrifying times, so much violence, hatred, death, and destruction. I thought it would never end. When it was over in 2002 all we wanted was to return to normality. Instead, we found we could not go home because the land was not safe. Landmines were buried by the Angolan Armed Forces to defend the village of Quitexe. Paths, roads, fields and bridges had been mined. You’d think war was painful enough, so many people lost everything. Yet we continued living in fear of injury or death from a landmine or losing crucial livestock.

I am thankful for the work that APOPO and the HeroRATs have done. This community is finally safe. I am really happy and excited. Children play and go to school freely without us having to worry all the time. Safe access to the village also means more traders will come, allowing us to sell produce at good prices. I know that the future will be bright for us. Life in Quitexe is returning to normal. I hope that my youngest child will grow up not even knowing what a landmine is.”


On behalf of Historia, and all of us here at APOPO, thank you for your incredible support.


Historia's land is safe thanks to donors like you.
Historia's land is safe thanks to donors like you.
An Angola HeroRAT in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT with trainer in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT with trainer in the field.
Jul 11, 2019

1,020 trees planted, thanks to your support.

Seedlings ready for transplantation.
Seedlings ready for transplantation.

Welcome to your quarterly project update - it's our pleasure to bring you the following information directly from the field:

Total number of trees planted:



The following species were planted:

200 x Bridelia micrantha (Misumba) 

166 x Acrocarpus

140 x Cinnamon

107 x Accacia

100 x Pinus

100 x Sedrela

65 x Syzigium guineense (Mizambarau Mwitu) 

39 x Avocado

30 x Clove

23 x Khaya anthotheca (Mikangazi)

20 x Teak

20 x Ficus sycomorus (Mikuyu)

10 x Jackfruit


The number of farmers who received training:

20 farmers in Ruvuma

20 farmers in Mgambazi

20 farmers in Tulo

20 farmers in Choma

10 farmers in Kisosa

The training provided to these farmers covered the collection of more indigenous seeds and seedlings, plucking them out into polythene bags or planting them directly into the field. Training also covered the testing of indigenous species purchased from farmers at Bustani ya Tushikamane in open nurseries, in addition to the transplantation of seedlings and the establishment of new seedlings.


Plans for the next quarter:

- Identification of more indigenous seeds or seedlings to establish in nurseries.

- Measuring the size of farmers' plots using GPS and an evaluation of their progress.

- Development of a new carbon curriculum. 

- Establishment of new spice and fruit tree seedlings with farmers from Choma.

- Plucking out indigenous seedlings following testing in the open nursery in Bustani ya Tushikamane.


To you, a huge thank you:

With your support this scheme has motivated farmers from all 5 areas to plant an incredible number of trees, safeguarding the forests of the Uluguru mountains. Your continued support for this project will help us continue in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, in addition to reducing poverty for local farmers, ensuring greater economic security. 


Transplantation is a delicate process.
Transplantation is a delicate process.
Farmer Abdalla tends to his trees.
Farmer Abdalla tends to his trees.
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.