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Dec 12, 2017

HeroRATs detect deadliest infectious disease


We are proud to celebrate the 1st anniversary of APOPO’s TB Detection Facility in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar Es Salaam

Since 2017, APOPO offers fast innovative TB diagnostics with the help of African giant pouched rats, nicknamed HeroRATs. The rats can check 100 samples in around 20 minutes. This would take a lab technician up to four days. Across sites, APOPO HeroRATs have helped increase clinic detection rates by 40%.

In the past, APOPO transferred samples collected from collaborating clinics in Dar es Salaam to Morogoro. Due to the distance from Dar es Salaam, however, patients often dropped out of the system before the APOPO results could be delivered, and missed out on life saving TB treatment. With the new facility in the city, APOPO strived for same day testing of the samples and delivery of results within 24 hours so patients get them when they return to clinic for their standard results. A similar model has been previously implemented in Maputo, Mozambique.

HeroRATs Success Doubled

Our experience over the first year is striking: The number of collaborating clinics has increased from 24 to 41 and the monthly sample volume in Dar es Salaam has more than doubled to over 4,500 samples evaluated by the HeroRATs in October 2017. 24-hour result turnaround was achieved whenever samples could be made available by the clinics for collection. Most importantly, in the past months, more than 80% or 90% of the additional patients were successfully linked to care (compared to 70% in the previous year), receiving appropriate anti-TB treatment at the clinic.

This clearly highlights the role of good service delivery in achieving health benefits, and supports the need for holistic approaches linking case detection to care.

HeroRATs Saved My Life

Leila is 13 years old and lives in a small house in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. She suddenly developed a severe headache, high fever and extreme fatigue.

“I was unable to attend school and had to stay at home. The TB test at the hospital showed a negative result. My grandparents were anxious because we did not have a diagnosis.

Then, I was informed that my sputum sample had been retested in Morogoro by APOPO and found to be positive for tuberculosis. We were relieved to hear that my illness could finally be treated!

My grandmother could not believe that rats had detected the disease. The amazing HeroRATs also helped in diagnosing my brother and sister.”

 Please continue to support APOPO! More work needs to be done to help children like Leila. Tuberculosis remains the deadliest infectious disease – despite being curable and preventable. The WHO estimates that there were 10.4 million new cases worldwide in 2016, and over 1.7 million deaths, including 0.4 million among people with HIV. An estimated 4.1 million were never diagnosed or reported. A gap we are contributing to close in our sites of operations.

Lena Fiebig,  APOPO Head of TB
Lena Fiebig, APOPO Head of TB
Celebrating a year of success
Celebrating a year of success
Dec 5, 2017

HeroRATs to help African Elephants

It’s the dawn of a new era for Zimbabwe, following an incredibly peaceful end to the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe.  APOPO is proud to support the new Zimbabwe by helping to clear its lethal landmines. These landmines are located in the heart of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), the largest conservation area in the world, where not only communities, but also many endangered species such as elephants, lions, wild dogs and many more are affected by the land mines.

The GLTP includes three iconic National Parks (NP) spanning three countries; Kruger NP in South Africa; Limpopo NP in Mozambique; Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe. APOPO’s minefield is found in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor, a specifically designated area aimed at allowing free movement of wildlife between Kruger NP and Gonarezhou NP. The minefield runs for 37km with one of the highest landmine densities in the world (about 5,500 mines per km), causing a serious threat to already endangered wildlife and communities living in the area.

HeroRATs Helping Elephants

Gonarezhou NP boasts a population of over 11,000 African elephants, one of the largest in Africa. Kruger NP also has a similar sized population. Given the general continental decline of the African elephant, it is paramount for the long-term wellbeing of the species that these two healthy populations have safe access to interaction.

HeroRATs Re-Building Lives

The landmines also scare away safari operators and lucrative, conservation-focused ecotourism. Kruger NP receives a massive influx of tourists (over 1,600,000 a year), which could potentially travel up the Sengwe Corridor and into Gonarezhou without requiring a visa or leaving the conservation area. Currently Gonarezhou receives virtually no international tourists. If even a small fraction of the Kruger tourists made it to Gonarezhou NP, the economic implications for Zimbabwe would be significant

 APOPO feels privileged to be here during this historic transition and wishes to play a role in the creation of a safer and more prosperous Zimbabwe. We are currently fundraising to be able to commence our demining operation in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor early next year.

Please help us to reach our goal! 


Nov 7, 2017

New Recruits!

Farmers in training
Farmers in training

We are delighted to announce that a further 40 farmers are now part of the HeroTREEs project! Together, they will plant a total of 6,000 trees before the New Year.

20 farmers from the Choma Village have already prepared and sowed 1,000 tree pots. We expect that they will a further 2,000 during the next month. This will bring the total trees planted in the Choma Village to 3,000 before the end of the year.

We have 20 farmers from the Kisosa Village who have prepared 1,500 tree pots. Similarly to the Choma Village farmers, we have a target to reach 3,000 before the year is over.

We wish our new participants all the very best!

Growing Success

As well as the new participants, we are also pleased to report on the successes of our ongoing participants

  • 40 Farmers from Ruvuma and Mgambazi have already planted 4,300 trees. They will continue planting trees during small rainy season
  • Tulo Village (20 farmers) have 2,500 trees which will be transplanted during the small rainy season
  • Tulo Village has 250 Avocados and 250 Mangos which will be grafted. This exercise will take place this year

Thank you for your support!

The forests of the Uluguru Mountains are of critical importance to indigenous village communities, the cities of Morogoro and Dar es Salaam, and the survival of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Furthermore, the project area is of vital importance to for Morogoro city's water supply.

On behalf of the communities involved, please keep supporting this vital work.


Farmers working hard
Farmers working hard
Planting trees
Planting trees
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