Move over Ninja Turtles, Hero Rats are here to save the world one landmine at a time.
APOPO is a non-governmental organisation committed to making the world a better place. They train African giant pouched rats (affectionately called Hero Rats) to detect landmines and tuberculosis; their mission is “to develop detection rats technology to provide solutions for global problems and inspire social change.” So, basically they’re a superhero squad with giant rats. Can somebody turn this into a comic book already?
The Hero Rats are a safe and efficient alternative to traditional methods of landmine and TB detection. The Mine-Detection rats search a 200m2 area in 1 hour accurately locating all unearthed landmines, searching the same area with a metal detector would take 2-4 days. The TB detection rats are as accurate as conventional routine microscopy, only 20x faster. Fast and effective TB diagnosis means quicker treatments, resulting in a reduction in the spread of the disease. More TB cured = more human lives saved, and it’s all thanks to these genius rodents!
APOPO’s humanitarian efforts don’t stop at Hero Rats, either. They also employ and involve local communities in the process. The non-profit uses readily available resources, and contributes to a community’s economy. They help to “initiate development and create positive social change.”
The animals aren’t in any danger, they’re too light to set off the landmines and have no risk of contracting TB. The furry creatures are chosen for not only their intelligence but also their acute sense of smell. The rats are treated like valued employees by APOPO, living a life full of bananas and human kindness.
You can support them by ‘adopting’ a Hero Rat – you get a welcome pack, an adoption certificate and monthly updates about your chosen rat. Or, you can buy Hero Rat swag from their website.
The Hero Rat program creates employment opportunities for locals and encourages community development. The less landmines and rampant disease, the happier a community am I right?
For other hero animals, check out Luca the Search and Rescue superstar.