Using "Hero Rats" to Detect Smuggled Pangolins

Grantee Endangered Wildlife Trust and APOPO
Type Stopping the Illegal Wildlife Trade
Location Africa-wide
Grant Amount $36,175
Duration 6 months

Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and APOPO are partnering to develop a novel system for detecting pangolins hidden in shipping and airport containers, with the goal to deter poaching by increasing detection of smuggled pangolins. While sniffer dogs are traditionally used to detect illegal wildlife products, APOPO is starting an innovative program to train African giant pouched rats to identify pangolin shipments. African giant pouched rats have historically been trained to sniff for landmines leftover from wars, and now they are being trained to stop the illegal wildlife trade. These so-called “Hero Rats” are promising  because they are cost-effective, they do not get fooled by physical barriers, and they can fit in small areas that are inaccessible to sniffer dogs. PCF funding is enabling EWT and APOPO to advance the program towards real-world deployment.