Crime / JusticeI’m Jonathan Hafetz, an ACLU lawyer trying to represent a U.S. citizen being secretly detained by the Trump administration. AMA
Dec 13th 2017 by aclu • 12 Questions • 238 Points
My short bio: Christophe has led APOPO's team for the past two decades and has many years of management experience in East Africa. Christophe holds an MSc in Product Development & Development Sciences and developed much of APOPO's technical apparatus. He has guided APOPO from a wild idea into an award-winning NGO with operations in Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe.
My Proof: https://twitter.com/HeroRATs/status/938807998033653760 only joking, real proof - https://twitter.com/HeroRATs/status/938458997149126659
About APOPO: APOPO is a non-profit that trains rats to save lives. Based in Tanzania, the organisation has pioneered the development of scent detection rats, nicknamed HeroRATs. We’re on a mission to develop detection rats technology to provide solutions for global problems and inspire positive social change. It was our 20th birthday last month!
About Landmine Detection Rats: APOPO's landmine detection rats have helped sniff out more than 100,000 mines, returned 22 million square meters of land, and helped free nearly one million people from the threat of explosives.
About Tuberculosis Detection Rats: APOPO's tuberculosis detection rats have safely sniffed nearly than 450,000 sputum samples identifying 12,000 additional cases of TB that were missed by clinics.
Ask me anything you like about APOPO, detection rats, animal training, landmines, tuberculosis, innovation, non-profits, or living in Africa for the past twenty years.
EDIT - Thanks for all your interesting questions - and you can always find us on our Facebook page or via email if you have more questions. I am mostly in Morogoro, Tanzania, where it's going to 11 pm now, but still 30 degrees celsius! /u/APOPO_Robin and /u/C_HeroRAT will answer any other questions you have. Thanks again.
Could you put tiny cameras on them with microphone/speaker/gps?
Yes we can! We did an initial experiment some years ago in first study to use rats for search and rescue. Meanwhile the technology has evolved and we are talking with a Search and Rescue group as well as with engineers to develop the technology for this same purpose, using infrared cameras to find survivors, which would also have to include GPS and communication equipment, all in a small backpack. Currently we are testing a small electronic ball-pull switch around the neck to see if rats can give just an electronic response in situations where we could not observe their behavior.
Is there anyway or plans to expand APOPO into other countries / areas that have mines?
We are currently preparing for operations in both Zimbabwe and Colombia. In Zimbabwe the rats will help save elephants, as the 37 km long mine belt we have been allocated, is in the midst of one of the largest trans-frontier wildlife parks in the world, and is actually a wildlife corridor. Colombia on the other hand, is littered with improvised explosive devices.
how does rat sniffing and detection dffer from that of dogs? aren't rats at risk to contract TB because of sniffing?
Both animals are so sensitive that we lack the analytical equipment to measure difference in sensitivity. Rats have more functional genes for the olfactory system than any other mammal. The difference comes in mainly that dogs are a bit more intelligent, can do more independent work - but are quite attached to their trainers. Rats instead like very much repetitive work and it takes less specialized skills to train a rat.