Through Science and innovation, excellent use has been found for rats in some part of Africa. The HeroRATs Campaign was launched by its parent organization, APOPO, to tell the stories of the rats that are changing the world, the trainers who teach them everything they know, and the people whose lives have been touched by their heroic efforts. A trained HeroRAT can clear 100 m2 in 20 minutes, equivalent to two days work for a manual deminer. HeroRATs also reliably detect pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in human sputum samples. Currently, in seven minutes one rat can evaluate 40 samples, which is the equivalent of one day of work via microscopy for a lab technician. What takes a man a day with a microscope, a trained rat can screen in seven minutes! Some success facts APOPO has returned 1,312,027 square meters of land back to the population since the start of our operations On average, a person with undetected TB infects 10-15 people each year so our work helped to prevent 9,300 TB transmissions just last year! In 2009, 44,457 people benefited from APOPOs mine clearance activities In 2009, APOPO found and neutralized: 169 mines, 181 unexploded ordinance, and 3,871 small arms and ammunition. How did this all start? The need for a new technology APOPO was initiated in response to the global landmine problem. In the mid-1990s it was well recognized that most mine-clearance techniques in use were slow and expensive. 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. How the idea came about Bart Weetjens, the founder of APOPO, got his first experience with rats as childhood pets in Belgium. Years later, as a product engineer, Bart made an analysis of the landmine problem in sub-Saharan Africa, and learned that the detection of these horrid devices was difficult, dangerous, costly and time consuming. Bart approached the problem from the viewpoint of subsistence farmers, and the limited resources they have at hand. He remembered his pet rats with their terrific sense of smell and trainability, and had come across a research article published in the 70s on gerbils detecting explosives in a lab. To Bart, it was quite logical that his beloved rats could provide a cheaper, more efficient and locally available means to detect landmines. With a personal affection for Africa through travels as a child, and Africa being more affected by landmines than any other region in the world, Bart focused his attentions on this region. Getting Started The Belgian Directorate for International Co-operation (DGIS) provided the initial financial support to develop the concept in November 1997. APOPO vzw was registered under the Belgian law as a non-commercial agency, and started its first research in early 1998. APOPO found a suitable rodent species in the Giant African Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus), which is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, has a long life span, and is resilient to most tropical diseases. Through partnerships with Antwerp University and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Bart set up laboratories in Belgium and Tanzania to begin training and testing African Giant Pouched Rats in the detection of explosive materials. Barts hunch about rats proved correct and the trainings were a tremendous success. The rats have now earned the affectionate term of HeroRATs and can use their highly sensitive and accurate sense of smell to identify the presence of both metal and plastic-cased landmines, and can be trained to detect a number of different things like explosives, tuberculosis bacteria, etc. APOPO caught wild African Giant Pouched Rats in Tanzania, domesticated the species, bred them in captivity and tried out several training protocols with the offspring. In 1999, the promising results impelled the planned transfer of APOPOs operational base to Africa. This would allow training and testing of the animals in near-to-real conditions. Working with the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), accreditation standards have been established to license the Mine Detection Rats (MDRs) and 38 trained HeroRATS are currently working in Mozambique to help with demining the Gaza Province. From these beginnings, APOPO has also expanded its HeroRAT programs to detect tuberculosis. Proof of principle for tuberculosis detection has been provided and APOPO is currently working on further validation of the research, publication, and clinical trials prior to implementation. However, at present APOPO provides second line screening of tuberculosis samples from five hospitals in Dar es Salaam, and has already increased detection rates in those hospitals by 44% Visit the herorat website and be part of this campaign to save lives hawa panya wana faida gani kwa hapa TZ?? maana naona milipuko inazidi au haikuwa landmine?? au ni hujuma?