Angola Rats That Fly
Angolan reinforcements take to the sky.
All the rats have now arrived safely and will spend some time acclimatizing and getting used to their surroundings and new trainers, before getting on with refresher training and eventual accrediation test in order to begin work on the minefield.
Last week 16 rats, including Shuri our new adoption rat, are beginning their journey to Angola. They have already made the long journey from our training center in Morogoro Tanzania, and are currently in Dar es Salaam awaiting their flight that leaves at 3am Friday local time.
The soon-to-be-operational mine detection rats (MDR) need to be weighed and checked by an airport vet, and have all their paperwork processed. APOPO’s rats now travel with an international animal passport to speed this up, showing their vaccinations and bill of health. Once they have passed through this process, they are taken away from the hustle and bustle of the airport and kept in a cool, quiet and dark place until about an hour before the flight.
APOPO MDR Training Supervisors Shafii and Pendo accompanied them on their journey from Morogoro to Dar es Salaam, making sure that they are comfortable and receive food and water as well as play breaks. On the Angolan side, MDR Supervisor Alfredo Adamo who is eagerly waiting for them to arrive tomorrow morning and will help to process their landing papers and check on them when they arrive in Luanda, Angola.
From there they will be rested, and then begin the final leg of the journey over land to Quitexe in Uíge province where we are working in partnership with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) to quickly detect landmines through the skills of the mine detection rats, so that the explosives can be carefully excavated and destroyed. Since beginning work in Angola in 2012 APOPO has helped our partner find and destroy explosive remnants of war, releasing over 1.1 million m2 of safe area and helping thousands of people back on their land.
The new rats will spend some time acclimatizing before beginning refresher training in their new surroundings. After a few weeks, they will be independently tested by CNIDAH the Angolan mine action authority, using International Mine Action Standards. During the test the rats have to search an area of 200m2 in less than 20 minutes hitting all three targets. They cannot miss a single mine, and can only give two false alarms.
We wish Shuri and her colleagues “safari njema” and look forward to hearing their news. We will keep you updated.
You can join us on a life-saving adventure by adopting Shuri the HeroRAT. She’s a staff favorite with a cheeky personality who brings a smile to the face of everyone she meets. Just a youngster, Shuri has recently graduated from APOPO mine detection training with flying colors. With a flash of her whiskers, Shuri will help sniff out landmines in Angola one of the most mine-affected places in the world.
APOPO Angola is deeply grateful for the support and generous contributions of its partners and donors.