Andy Murray to find landmines in Angola

The People' Postcode Lottery (UK) supports 16 HeroRATs for mine detection in Angola. 

About a year ago sixteen baby HeroRATs were chosen from the APOPO breeding center in Tanzania to be trained as landmine detection rats. With the support of the Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery (UK), these rats have now successfully completed their training and are being prepared to move to their new home in northwestern Angola.

Andy Murray, named after the British three-time Tennis Grand Slam winner, came out at the top of the group and particularly excelled in his training. Over the past nine months his Tanzanian rat trainer Nassoro has patiently been helping him get up to speed for his future livelihood- and life-saving mission. 

The current task being carried out by APOPO in Angola is near Quitexe Village in Uíge province and was formerly a military post during the war. These sixteen HeroRATs will be providing much needed extra capacity to the project, in joining the other mine detection rats that have been in Angola since 2013 supporting our partner Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). Many of these veteran rats are nearing retirement age so they will work together with the new recruits during a long transition period. The HeroRATs have significantly increased the speed of landmine detection, speeding up the daily square meter coverage and clearance, and allowing people to get back on their land as quickly as possible.

NPA and APOPO are focused on the northwestern provinces of Malanje, Uíge and Zaire, all of which border the Democratic Republic of Congo. But despite the world being committed to helping Angola meet the objective of becoming mine-free by 2025, the current mine clearance capacity in the country is considerably less than it was just a few years ago. 

Global support for fighting landmines is declining. Yet the negative impact posed by landmines to the development of countries like Angola is immense. Large areas of productive land has been rendered off-limits for decades, yet only about 3% of that land typically contains any explosive material at all. As long as the landmines stay in the ground, Angola's economic development will stay severely hindered. 

The grant from the UK People’s Postcode Lottery has not only supported the training of these sixteen new recruits but the UK Peoples Postcode Lottery also directly supports the Angola program, donating over £85,000 in 2017 alone. We are immensely proud to see that the new recruits have passed their final APOPO/IMAS assessment tests and will soon be sniffing out landmines. After the paperwork is being processed we hope the rats will be able to fly out to their new home in the next few weeks.

APOPO Angola is deeply grateful for the support and generous contributions of its partners and donors.