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
Malen and Magawa
Malen and Magawa

This special project update features APOPO’s star HeroRAT, Magawa’s retirement and a new squad of 20 HeroRAT arrivals in Cambodia!

As you may remember, veteran Magawa was formally presented a PDSA Gold Medal – the animal equivalent of the George Cross - being the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honouring animals to receive a PDSA Medal! See images for Magawa with his suitably rat sized medal.

During his illustrious five-year career, HeroRAT, Magawa’s work has directly saved the lives of men, women and children who were impacted by hidden landmines and other deadly remnants of war. Every discovery he made reduced the risk of injury or death for the people of Cambodia. 

Magawa found an amazing 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT and he helped clear over 225,000 square metres of land, allowing communities to live, work and be educated; without fear of losing life or limb. 

Our New Squad of HeroRATs in Cambodia

So, our new squad of 20 HeroRATs in Cambodia arrive at an opportune time, following the expansion of the APOPO Cambodia landmine clearance program, and as veterans like Magawa reach retirement. All the new recruits have now gone through a period of acclimatization and retraining with their new Cambodian handlers and now that they have received their external accreditation, they are clear to join team Magawa on the minefields!

The additional HeroRATs will help boost the daily square meter coverage and clearance, so local communities can get back on their land as quickly as possible. 

Your continued support helps this new generation of HeroRATs in Cambodia and other HeroRAT teams around the world, continue their work.

Thank you so much for supporting APOPO and our amazing HeroRATs, we couldn’t do what we do without you!

Magawa with his PDSA medal
Magawa with his PDSA medal
Mine detection HeroRAT
Mine detection HeroRAT

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Planting seedlings around the former minefield.
Planting seedlings around the former minefield.

Thank you so much for your continued support last quarter! Your support has contributed to some incredible achievements, and we hope you enjoy reading about the highlights of your incredible investment into APOPO's work.

Excitingly, on January 14th, APOPO and the Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC) participated in a ceremony to hand over the last minefield cleared during 2020!  Over the last 5 years APOPO’s innovative working methods in Cambodia have proven to be reliable and much more cost-efficient compared to traditional manual landmine clearance techniques. We even exceeded our target goal for 2020 by 25%, clearing a total of 4,389,935 square meters of land over the course of the year! There is still much to do, Cambodia has some of the world’s highest mine and UXO casualty rates, but with your help, we know we can do it.

We are also delighted to report that we have received a huge boost to our efforts to eradicate landmines in Angola from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BMFA). Angola has one of the highest casualty rates of any landmine-affected country, so we will continue to seek funding for this vital work, in order to meet the 2025 target by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) deadline of 2025.

HeroRATs training to help fight illegal wildlife trafficking

HeroRATs have proved their ability to detect illegally trafficked pangolin scales (the world’s most widely trafficked mammal) and African hardwoods. Our team was thrilled to see a group of rats successfully indicate these while ignoring common items used to mask their smell in shipping containers! Together, in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa, APOPO is now exploring the inclusion of additional wildlife products, while developing unique deployment strategies to position the rats where they are needed most.

We hope that you enjoy seeing the impact of your donations, as much as we do - none of this would be possible without support, such as yours. Thank you.

This week, we are taking part in GlobalGiving’s Little x Little campaign, where from the 8th March until the 12th March, your donations are match funded. If you donate this week, before Friday 12th March, your donation will be automatically increased by 50%! 

Giving back the land - last minefield cleared 2020
Giving back the land - last minefield cleared 2020
HeroRATs training to stop wildlife trafficking
HeroRATs training to stop wildlife trafficking

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Magawa and his gold medal.
Magawa and his gold medal.

Well. What an incredible quarter! Not only have our operations continued in the face of a pandemic but in September we also received the fantastic news that one of our HeroRATs, Magawa, was to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for life-saving work. We couldn't be prouder! 

Magawa Receives PDSA Gold Medal

One of our landmine detection rats, Magawa was born in Tanzania in November 2014. He grew up at APOPO's Training and Research centre in Tanzania where he learned how to detect the smell of explosives using his nose. Magawa moved to Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2016 where he met his new handler Malen and began his successful career. To date he has found 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT. Over the past 4 years he has helped clear over 141,000 square metres of land (the equivalent of twenty football pitches), allowing local communities to live, work and play without fear of losing life or limb.

PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity, providing free and reduced-cost veterinary care to the pets of people in need. The PDSA Gold Medal is awarded to civilian animals for life-saving bravery and exceptional devotion to duty and the award is recognised worldwide as the animal equivalent of the George Cross. Magawa was formally presented with his rat-sized PDSA Gold Medal via a live link between Cambodia and the UK by the PDSA’s Director General. He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honouring animals to receive a PDSA Medal – joining a line-up of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.

Beating the Odds to Clear Minefields

As COVID-19 spread around the world we continued to push forward in our mission. Throughout this past quarter our teams across the world have continued to adapt in order to continue our life-saving work whilst minimising risk with protective measures - these included installing additional sinks, renting larger staff housing and increasing our fleet of cars.

In Cambodia demining operations continued in the Srey Nui area of Siem Reap, where suspect land along roads and farmland has not been safe to use for almost 30 years. The surrounding rural population is dependent on agriculture. Clearance of the area returns much-needed safe land back to the communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. This in turn will allow them to improve their livelihoods by increasing their livestock and expanding their farms.

APOPO teams in Siem Reap finished clearing 10 minefields covering 856,635 m2 land around Dai Av village with the land now being declared safe. APOPO and the HeroRATs - including Magawa - found 115 landmines and 99 unexploded ordnance (UXO). On July 22nd a small handover ceremony was held at the village where APOPO and CMAC teams officially released the safe land back to the village.

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It's thanks to your continued support that were able to bring real change to the communities with which we work.  Your incredible support allows us to detect landmines and tuberculosis across the world and we cannot thank you enough. 

The team embraces COVID-19 measures.
The team embraces COVID-19 measures.
Magawa and handler, Malen
Magawa and handler, Malen
Operations in Cambodia continue.
Operations in Cambodia continue.
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Deminer Rathana receiving essential supplies
Deminer Rathana receiving essential supplies

Our last project report was sent to you on March 25, 2020 and my goodness, a lot has happened since then.

For us here at APOPO the pandemic has had a significant effect on our finances and our operations; in last quarter we have striven, wherever possible, to continue our humanitarian missions but the nature of our work means we have been subject to varying levels of lockdown across different locations. In some of our operational countries, like Angola, we have had to cease activity entirely during the last three months following the declaration of a state of emergency. In others, such as Cambodia, we took the difficult decision to close the doors of our popular Visitor Center in Siem Reap in order to protect staff and visitors, and play our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Not everything over the last three months has been negative, however. Such difficult times saw a significant number of people reach out to us with genuine interest as to whether our HeroRATs could be trained to detect COVID-19, a subject that we cover here. Your questions about our HeroRATs capabilites are always inspiring!

Without a doubt we have experienced unprecedented times, but throughout the last three months one thing has been made clear to us - the unwavering support from people like you. With the pandemic hitting our finances hard, we've leant on our supporters harder than before and the messages of support and incoming donations have been a lifeline for our staff. With your support we were able to financially support our staff in Cambodia despite the closure of our Visitor Center, we were also able to purchase food and basic supplies for our HeroRAT handlers, trainers and staff which enabled them to support their families through this crisis. 

Over the last three months the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all in some way, and as the world continues to manage its response in the best way it can we'd like to say that we hope you and your loved ones are well and continue to remain so. Your donations and positivity for our work is the blood running through our veins and we cannot thank you enough. 

On behalf of all of us here at APOPO, thank you so very much. 

Did You Know?

From 09:00:00 to 23:59:59 ET on July 15, 2020 GlobalGiving will be matching eligible donations from $100 to $1000 as follows:

Donations from $100 to $499 will be matched at 15%
Donations from $500 to $749 will be matched at 35%
Donations from $750 to $1000 will be matched at 50%

Keep an eye out for our project appeals and join us on June 15 and make your donation go farther for free.

Tour guide Voly receiving essential supplies
Tour guide Voly receiving essential supplies
Cambodia staff social distancing with masks
Cambodia staff social distancing with masks
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Welcome to our first project update of 2020 where we’ll be focussing on our tuberculosis (TB) operations given our latest, exciting news: 9 new TB detection rats are ready for deployment.

The first three months of the year have seen our Training and Innovation team working flat out to get 9 new TB detection rats ready for operations abroad. Thanks to your support we've been able to train these additional HeroRATs to bolster our tuberculosis detection offering, but do you know how it's done?

It takes roughly 9 months to train a HeroRAT in TB detection. When young, our rats are regularly handled and socialised in order to ensure they become at ease in their surroundings and with people. They are regularly handled by trained staff and introduced to everyday sounds and smells.

As training progresses, the rats are trained to associate the sound of a click with a reward; when they near a sputum sample they hear a click and receive some banana - one of their favourite treats! Once able to identify a sputum sample they move on to learn how to distinguish between TB positive and TB negative samples; they will only hear a click and receive a reward if they interact with the TB positive sample.

As a final stage of training, our rats are exposed to 10 samples at a time beneath sniffing holes in one of our line cages. As they move along the cage our rats are trained to hold their noses over TB positive samples for 2-3 seconds.

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The World Health Organisation's latest statistics confirm that in 2018 a total of 1.5 million people died from TB and an estimated 10 million people fell ill with the disease. Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent. 

With TB being both curable, and preventable, it's vital that we continue our valuable work in not only TB detection, but also training and innovation - your support is vital to our cause. In spite of our successes, much work remains to realise a world free of mines and TB. We are forging ahead through the course of 2020 with a renewed focus on the continuation of our efforts to bring good health, security, peace and the chance of development to the communities within which we work. With your continued support, we will be able to do so.

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On that note, GlobalGiving's Little by Little campaign is fast approaching and you'll be able to make your donations go further. 

Between 09:00:00 ET on March, 23, 2020 through 23:59:00 ET on March, 27, 2020 all eligible donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% at no extra cost to you. 

Keep your eyes peeled for our further project appeal email on March, 23, 2020.


Thank you for your incredible support for our work. 

APOPO colleague Marygiven preparing sputum samples
APOPO colleague Marygiven preparing sputum samples
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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
$765,935 raised of $1,000,000 goal
 
15,617 donations
$234,065 to go
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