Monday, 2 April 2012


APOPO is a social enterprise that researches, develops and disseminates detection rats technology for humanitarian purposes. It was initiated in response to the global landmine problem. Landmines pose a structural barrier to any development. Moreover, vulnerable communities remain dependent on imported expertise to address the complex problems of landmine detection and clearance of suspected areas. 

There are currently 66 countries and 7 territories around the world that are affected by landmines and/or explosive remnants of war. Landmines pose a structural barrier to development and economic growth, long after war ends.
Developing communities remain dependent on imported expertise to address the complex problems of landmine detection and clearance of suspected areas.
Detection of landmines is difficult, dangerous, costly and time-consuming. Currently, many developing countries are under pressure to meet their commitments to become landmine free by the Ottawa deadline (different for every country), but many lack the resources to fulfill that commitment.

APOPO has stepped up its war on landmines and aims to spread the use of its unique rat detection and land release methodology through its Mine Action Programs. APOPO continues to develop combined approaches using existing demining technology as well as its innovative Mine Detection Rats (MDRs), leading to greater land release rates. In addition to the current use of these HeroRATs in clearance procedures, the role of rats in technical survey is also being explored, which will have a positive effect on overall efficiency of releasing land.

Rats have an exceptional sense of smell, and can be trained to detect explosives. Unlike metal detectors, they can detect both metal and plastic-cased landmines.
Rats provide a low-tech solution to the landmine problem, especially in low-resource environments.
Rats are light-weight (approximately 1.5 kg or less) and they will not set off mines when they stand on them (it typically takes 5 kg to set off a pressure-activated landmine).
Rats are very sociable and easy to train, and they don't mind performing repetitive tasks (in exchange for a sweet reward!)
Rats are small and very cheap to feed, maintain, and transport.
Rats are motivated by food, and are less emotionally tied to their handlers than dogs - it is therefore easier to transfer them between handlers.
Rats require little veterinary care, are resilient to many tropical diseases and are highly adaptable creatures.
African giant pouched rats have a long life span (6-8 years) which means a solid return on the initial training investment.

APOPO currently has Mine Action Programs in Mozambique and Thailand. Since 2006 APOPO has run a fully operational mine clearance program in Mozambique, and in 2008 was tasked as the sole operator for continuing the clearance of Gaza Province. The goal is to clear all known remaining minefields in Gaza Province by 2014, in accordance with Mozambique’s mine-ban treaty extension request deadline.

For more information visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment