Dec 30, 2019

2019: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Landmine Detection : HeroRATs Arrive in Cambodia
Landmine Detection : HeroRATs Arrive in Cambodia

Another year has almost passed and my, what a year.

Thanks to your support we’ve been able to achieve so much and positively affect so many people across the world. Let’s take a nostalgic few moments to review some key moments from 2019.


On January 16th, 2019 we, alongside our partner Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC), were thrilled to announce the completion of a minefield in Dai Ao village of the Sre Noi Commune in Varin District. A handover ceremony was held to release 520,257 square meters of land back to the community.

In February 2019 we reached a landmark - 250,000 patients with signs and symptoms of tuberculosis (TB) retested since the TB programme began in 2007. "Our experiences from Mozambique and Tanzania show that it takes both speedy testing and community health worker support to make ‘Find & Treat’ come true for more and more patients.” - Dr Lena Fiebig, APOPO Head of Tuberculosis

In March 2019 we celebrated World TB Day - a day which educates the public on the massive burden caused by TB globally and calls on governments, civil society organizations, communities and others to step up efforts to jointly end TB.

In April 2019 we celebrated International Landmine Awareness Day reflecting upon our work and celebrating the achievements of our staff, partners, and landmine detection animals. We also welcomed 10 new landmine detection HeroRATs to their new home in Cambodia (thanks to the support of the People's Postcode Lottery) providing much-needed capacity to operations in Cambodia.

In May 2019 three HeroRATs moved to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa act as ambassadors for our work and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations

In June and July 2019 a video about our work developed by the South China Morning Post (SPMC) received over half a million views, furthering the knowledge of our work and impact throughout the world.

On August 5th, 2019 our TB detection team in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania was happy to host Second Secretary Kim Wilkinson from the Australian High Commission in Kenya at our Tuberculosis (TB) laboratory in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania. The Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) supported APOPO from January 2018 through July 2019 and the DAP grant allowed us to train six new young African giant pouched rats for our TB Detection program.

In September 2019 our very own Dr Georgies Mgode attended workshop titled 'Beyond the standard: Non-model vertebrates in biomedicine' in Berlin, Germany, where researchers from more than 20 countries gathered to share their experiences. Dr Mgode shared research experiences presenting African giant pouched rats and olfactory based medical application.

In October 2019 24 landmine detection rats boarded their first international flight for Cambodia. The rats arrived safely on Wednesday, October 23rd, raising the number of rats in our Cambodia program to 50.

On November 29th, 2019 we held a handover ceremony with residents of Trapeang Krasang, in Siem Reap Province, releasing 788,257 square meters of land that were cleared during August, September and October 2019 with over 170 anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) found and destroyed. The land was delivered back to 19 families from the village.

On December 10th, 2019 we celebrated Human Rights Day 2019 reflecting on the fact that human rights should be enjoyed by everyone. We took time to remember that our work is connected to human rights because landmines deprive thousands of people of their fundamental rights, such as safety, security and freedom of movement.

---

The above is just a snapshot of all of the things we've been able to achieve, contribute to, and celebrate throughout 2019. It's thanks to your support that we're able to continue our fight against landmines and tuberculosis, whilst continuing valuable research and development into projects for the future.

As 2019 draws to a close, here's to 2020. Here's to working together to changes the lives of beneficiaries across the world.

We wish you a very Happy New Year to you, your family, and your friends. 

Tuberculosis Detection : Preparation of Samples
Tuberculosis Detection : Preparation of Samples
Landmine Detection : Tree Planting Ceremony
Landmine Detection : Tree Planting Ceremony
Tuberculosis Detection : A Beneficiary Named Asma
Tuberculosis Detection : A Beneficiary Named Asma
Landmine Detection : A HeroRAT and Handler
Landmine Detection : A HeroRAT and Handler
Oct 8, 2019

Helping the environment, one leaf at a time.

Group members managing the nursery in Choma Street
Group members managing the nursery in Choma Street

July to September 2019 was another busy quarter for our farmers. Whilst they had a break from planting seedlings this was by no means an easy quarter as many attended training and prepared nurseries ready for new seedlings. 

Around 90 farmers received training on nursey management and GPS survey methods in order to accurately measure their plots to ensure efficient use of the land for plantations. 20 farmers attended from Ruvuma, 20 from Mgambazi, 20 from Tulo, 20 from Choma, and 10 from Kisosa.

In addition to training, a group of farmers from Kisosa also established a new nursery with indigenous tree species including Bridelia Micrantha, Syzigium Guineeense, and Ficus Sycomorus.

The focus of Q4 will be as follows:

  • The continuing development of a carbon curriculum
  • Establishment of new seedlings with Choma group (spice and fruit trees)
  • Internal inspection by group members in November
  • External inspection by Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania in December
  • Follow up on tree management in the field
  • Nursery establishment at Kisosa (for indigenous species)
  • Follow up on nursery management (Choma group)
  • Pricking out the indigenous seedlings tested in an open nursey
  • Measuring farmers plots (with a GPS)

As a busy quarter awaits us, we wish to thank you for your continued support. With each seedling planted you are developing local farmers, inspiring young people and helping the environment, one leaf at a time.

Omary, a member of Twimanye group, in his field.
Omary, a member of Twimanye group, in his field.
Strawberries growing amongst Acrocarpus trees.
Strawberries growing amongst Acrocarpus trees.
Intro to survey method for Tulo group members.
Intro to survey method for Tulo group members.
Survey team member, measuring a farm with GPS.
Survey team member, measuring a farm with GPS.
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
 
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.