Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions

by APOPO vzw
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Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
HeroRATs demonstration, Azerbaijan. Photo UNDP
HeroRATs demonstration, Azerbaijan. Photo UNDP

Welcome to your latest update on the HeroRATs work and what an exciting few months it has been, thanks to your generosity and support of our HeroRATs’ work!

We are delighted to let you know that we have successfully deployed a new team of 12 newly qualified HeroRATs to Azerbaijan in the last quarter, as well as 20 staff members, and they are currently undergoing acclimatization training. 

This year, a new project was launched to support the safe return of internationally displaced people in Azerbaijan. The project will help around 33,000 returned families to feel safe again and enable them to begin restoring their livelihoods. Landmines and other unexploded remnants of war prevent the safe and voluntary return of displaced families. Last month APOPO participated in the launch of this EU-funded project entitled “Supporting Safe Return of Internally Displaced People through Capacity Building of Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA)”. The project is implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with ANAMA, International Eurasian Press Foundation (IEPF), and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). 

A ceremony in Terter marked the official commencement of training for the country’s first female demining teams and featured live demonstrations of APOPO’s HeroRATs. Along with the new IEPF female demining teams being trained by MAG, our HeroRAT teams will be deployed this month. We are thrilled to be able to increase the number of animal detection teams in Azerbaijan and contribute to ANAMA’s accelerated landmine clearance efforts across the country. This is only possible through support such as yours, so thank you again for your enduring support.

APOPO’s HeroRATs also proved their mettle in detecting wildlife contraband in a real-world field trial at Dar es Salaam seaport in Tanzania. Despite increased efforts to curb this illicit trade, the seaport of Dar es Salaam, which handles 95% of Tanzania’s international trade, continues to face challenges in detecting wildlife contraband. Existing screening methods are expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive to legitimate trade, making it difficult for authorities to keep pace with sophisticated tactics employed by organized crime networks.

APOPO aims to deploy our HeroRATs to improve the screening process for detecting commonly trafficked wildlife products, such as pangolin scales. The results of this trial have unveiled a promising solution that could transform existing screening methods and provide a valuable tool in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade (IWT).

Dr. Izzy Szott, APOPO’s Behavior Research Scientist leading the team responsible for the latest trial had this to say:

“The trials showed that our rats were able to work confidently and effectively in an operational seaport, The rats performed searches across four different search strategies and, working with their skilled handlers, found over 83% of planted wildlife targets. These findings are significant indicators of the potential of our rats to aid in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. Not only can rats do the work, but in addition, the involved government parties were impressed and voiced their critical support.”

The trial revealed significant promise, highlighting the rats’ potential to screen sealed shipping containers through their vents, search inside opened, stuffed containers, as well as screen a variety of stand-alone/individual items. Multiple rats could be deployed simultaneously to navigate the vast number of containers, quickly identifying illicit shipments in a matter of minutes. Importantly, the rats demonstrated adaptability to the noisy port environment and performed consistently well with different handlers. 

The trafficking of endangered species and the IWT have grave implications for the conservation and survival of threatened wildlife, as well as the economies and security of affected countries. IWT threatens iconic species and robs communities of their natural heritage. This illicit trade is intricately linked to other global criminal activities, including drug and weapons trafficking, modern slavery, and the exploitation of vulnerable communities. Smuggled wildlife products, skilfully concealed within shipping containers, pose significant challenges for detection and interception. However, by developing innovative methods to detect and deter IWT, we can disrupt these networks, help bring perpetrators to justice, and safeguard endangered species.

With the success of the trial, APOPO is now focused on scaling up the program and fine-tuning the rats’ capabilities for real-world deployment. We also plan on training more rats, potentially extending detection capabilities to additional endangered wildlife products and exploring further opportunities for their deployment in airports and across land borders.

Through ongoing collaborations and continued support from donors such as you, APOPO aims to establish HeroRATs as standard screeners in ports worldwide, making a lasting impact on wildlife conservation efforts and becoming part of the solution for a safer, more sustainable future for our planet.

Thank you so much again for your amazing generosity and help to achieve these brilliant milestones.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about the success that your support has brought and please do not forget to follow us on our NEW project page (58093)!

Team trialling HeroRATs at Dar es Salaam Seaport
Team trialling HeroRATs at Dar es Salaam Seaport
HeroRATs sniffing shipping container air vents
HeroRATs sniffing shipping container air vents

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Ronin and Handler, Sokun
Ronin and Handler, Sokun

Thank you for your continued support of our amazing HeroRATs - you have collectively helped us raise a million dollars on GlobalGiving!

We have therefore set up a new GlobalGiving page where you can still give to our amazing HeroRATs. The new project number is 58093. Our work and associated costs to save lives will continue, so we hope you will consider joining us on the new page, so we can keep you updated on your amazing support!

If you are a monthly donor, do not worry - your recurring support will automatically transfer to the new HeroRATs project. 

2022 - What a Year!

For this first report of 2023, I thought it would be nice to summarise the year 2022, and as the year ended, our HeroRATs and brave deminers still continued their work apace. Throughout 2022, a total of 7,830 landmines and unexploded remnants of war have been detected by our teams globally and almost 11 million square meters of land have been declared mine-free! An amazing achievement thanks to your support - thank you!

We have HeroRATs deployed across five different countries – working to save lives with their incredible sense of smell! Of course, this would not be possible without your support – you have saved thousands of lives with your support of our HeroRATs in fact. Last year, we estimate that with your support, APOPO helped over 20,000 direct beneficiaries and over 100,000 indirect beneficiaries. Your support has made a difference in so many people's lives. 

Your support releases land and people from the shackles of fear and opens up opportunities for entire communities. Your support gives people the freedom to play, walk and drive without fear, and it enables people to lift themselves up in a socioeconomic sense. People can plant crops, build new community buildings, graze cattle and also create new infrastructure, improving entire villages’ financial outlook. 

The horrors of landmines cannot be ignored though – every year over 5,000 people are maimed or killed by a landmine or UXO and half of the victims are children. Every landmine that you helped detect and remove from the ground with your support prevents another accident. Thank you.

Coming Up 

Looking forward to 2023, our HeroRATs will be continuing operations in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cambodia and Angola. We will also be looking into other geographical regions where our HeroRATs may be able to save lives.

Of course, your support also helps us research new ways in which our HeroRATs can save lives, so research will continue into our search and rescue rats (RescueRATs!) and our wildlife trafficking detection HeroRATs. We cannot wait to keep you updated on our successes throughout 2023!

Thank you so much for your generosity and support, and most importantly - your dedication to making the world a better place.

With huge thanks and best wishes,

Emma

HeroRAT Ilaria at work in mine detection
HeroRAT Ilaria at work in mine detection
Playtime! All HeroRATs have play time each day
Playtime! All HeroRATs have play time each day
HeroRAT detecting Tuberculosis (TB)
HeroRAT detecting Tuberculosis (TB)

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Baraka  - Our New Adoption Rat
Baraka - Our New Adoption Rat

As always, thank you for your continued support and we hope you enjoy your update on the past quarter. Our HeroRATs have certainly been busy finding unexploded remnants of war and landmines across the globe.

In Cambodia, the rainy season has not held our teams back and they continue to remove dangerous weapons making land safe again for Cambodians. In Angola, our HeroRATs' landmine detection allows APOPO to continue saving lives.

APOPO's work encompasses more than just our major demining operations. Our commitment to social transformation, and improving economic and environmental conditions include employing and training locals from rural villages impacted by landmines. Of course, post clearance, many other opportunities arise for people, such as once again being able to farm their land and graze cattle, thus raising socio-economic standards for many thousands of people in our countries of operation. 

In terms of tuberculosis (TB) detection, the APOPO Communications team in Tanzania recently spent some time in the field together with partner community-based organization MKUTA, speaking with former TB patients throughout Dar es Salaam that were initially misdiagnosed by their clinics but later correctly diagnosed by APOPO’s HeroRATs. 

These first-hand accounts serve as the groundwork for a better understanding of the challenges communities still face because of undiagnosed and untreated TB. While reports detail the analytical data behind the HeroRATs work, we can never forget that those numbers and tests represent real lives. Hearing from TB patients in their homes, at the clinics, and in their own words also allows the APOPO team to reflect on our mission and core values. We will share these impact stories with you in the next project updates.

 

Your support allows our HeroRAT teams to remove explosives from the ground as quickly and efficiently as possible and to make the detection of TB a priority for communities across Africa. 

OTHER NEWS!

In other news, we are delighted to announce that we have taken the opportunity to launch a new adoption package for a HeroRAT pup called Baraka. Baraka was born on August 4th of this year, at APOPO's Training and Innovation Center in Morogoro, Tanzania. This HeroRAT in training is not only incredibly cute, but he is also a future lifesaver in the making and you can follow his training and deployment into his new career by adopting him on our website!

As you will know from previous updates, APOPO is an incredibly lean and efficient non-profit, with a huge 90% of your donation going directly to the work we do on the ground. Your support genuinely has an impact, and we couldn’t do what we do without it. Thank you.

We look forward to updating you in the next quarter!

Ronin on duty in Cambodia
Ronin on duty in Cambodia
Comms Officer Humphrey gathering impact stories
Comms Officer Humphrey gathering impact stories
Carolina detecting tuberculosis (TB)
Carolina detecting tuberculosis (TB)

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Khnar Phtuol village celebrate freedom from mines!
Khnar Phtuol village celebrate freedom from mines!

This last quarter has been a busy one for APOPO and our HeroRATs thanks to your support! We have had new additions enter the world, and some of the pups remain with mum, whilst others have begun their socialization training. We will be running a very special silent auction in the coming months, where you will have the possibility of naming one of our HeroRATs. Keep following us on social media for more information, or you can email me directly emma.mortiboy@apopo.org and I will let you know when the auction starts!

In terms of how your support has helped in the last quarter, your contribution has generated some genuinely heart-warming stories. You enabled us to hold a handover ceremony in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in partnership with CMAC, giving the land back to the community of Khnar Phtuol village. APOPO held a special ceremony now that all the landmines have been cleared, and the land can be used by the village to live and farm. This new freedom enables economic growth and for people to rebuild their livelihoods. The photo below shows the joy of freedom you have given to this village in Cambodia. Thank you. 

During the last quarter, APOPO also received renewed support from the Belgium Government and worked together with the Norwegian People’s Aid Angola. This additional funding will help support life-saving operations clearing the Cuanza Sul province, which is one of the most contaminated provinces in Angola.

Update on our Research and Innovation

At our Tanzanian headquarters, HeroRATs are being trained to help stop illegal wildlife trafficking that continues to diminish many endangered species. This ground-breaking initiative exposes rats in training to the scents of commonly trafficked wildlife, including pangolin scales. In time, these special HeroRATs can be deployed to local shipping ports where they can quickly search cargo containers for wildlife contraband.

Our Research and Innovation Team have also been working on training the HeroRATs for search and rescue, appropriately calling them RescueRATs! These rats are trained to locate a victim and then pull a microswitch on their vest to alert the rescuers. The rat then returns to the handler for a tasty treat as a reward! 

Your support helps our HeroRATs reach new heights and every donation you make will make a difference. We hope you enjoyed reading about the impact of your support and we are also delighted to let you know that the latest Annual Report is now available for you to read: LINK

With huge thanks and best wishes,

The APOPO Team

 

 

High profile Belgian Government ceremony
High profile Belgian Government ceremony
Training HeroRAT, Daudi for wildlife detection
Training HeroRAT, Daudi for wildlife detection

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Volunteer, Rashidi
Volunteer, Rashidi

LAST QUARTER

The last quarter has been bittersweet. Our HeroRATs have continued their lifesaving work around the world, and as you may have seen in the news, in January, our much beloved Magawa passed away peacefully in his sleep. It was very sad, especially for the handlers and trainers who worked so closely with Magawa, but he did live to a grand old age of eight and in his memory, our supporters raised over $10,000 to help support future HeroRATs.

At our Tanzanian Training Center, we have just had a new litter of HeroPUPs born - they are still nestled up with mum and will begin the process of socialization at 4 - 5 weeks of age. Socialization means that APOPO trainers gently carry them around, introducing them to sights, sounds, smells, and noises, to adapt them to the training environment and their human trainers. Our HeroRATs are always so friendly and adaptable with people, and it is this crucial part of the training, which makes this the case.

The total landmines and other explosives cleared, and safe land released throughout last year, has benefitted both direct and indirect beneficiaries, allowing children to play freely and creating safe paths to school and work. Thank you.

COMING UP

Next month on the 24th of March, it is World Tuberculosis Day, which is where we join the thousands of other health agencies to raise awareness and promote donations to those helping in the fight against tuberculosis. Fighting tuberculosis in countries such as Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania, is more important than ever with the emergence of COVID19, adding another severe acute respiratory illness into the mix. It is more important than ever that our work detecting missed tuberculosis samples continues.

The fight to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) involves the combined efforts of clinics, programs, and volunteers working together to address the diagnosis and treatment shortfalls. APOPO's TB detection HeroRATs do their part by helping find undiagnosed cases of TB. After a positive sample has been confirmed, the partner clinic is notified so that patients can start treatment and begin feeling better. Once the clinic receives the notice of a positive diagnosis, APOPO's community partner steps in to help provide additional education and support and ensure that medications are completed. APOPO has volunteer healthcare workers who provide much-needed outreach to underserved communities and rural areas where there is a high gap from diagnosis, to linkage, to care.

Many of these volunteer healthcare workers have themselves suffered tuberculosis or provided care to families afflicted with the debilitating disease. Knowing the hardship tuberculosis imposes, they now help those in need.

Our HeroRATs detect 40% more cases of tuberculosis than microscopy alone, meaning your donation not only saves lives from the horrors of war, but also from the horrendous symptoms associated with tuberculosis. Thank you.

Warm wishes,

Emma

Handler with TB Detecting HeroRAT
Handler with TB Detecting HeroRAT
HeroRAT playing in tree!
HeroRAT playing in tree!
HeroRAT harnessing up for landmine clearance
HeroRAT harnessing up for landmine clearance

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Organization Information

APOPO vzw

Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HeroRATs
Project Leader:
Emma Mortiboy
Morogoro , Tanzania, United Republic of

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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