Magawa, the landmine-detecting “hero rat”, has died at the age of eight.
The African giant pouched rat, who sniffed out landmines and other explosives in Cambodia, was one of the most successful rodents trained by Belgian charity APOPO.
During his five-year career, he managed to clear more than 225,000sq m of land – the equivalent of about 31 football pitches – and discovered 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, the charity previously said.
Image: ‘Magawa will leave a lasting legacy’
In 2020, he became the first rat to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal, the animal equivalent of the George Cross which recognises acts of heroism by British citizens and military personnel.
A year later Magawa, also known as a “hero rat”, decided to take a back seat from the action and retired, with his baton at the charity being taken up by another rodent named Ronin.
‘We are grateful for the incredible work he’s done’
Image: Magawa worked across Cambodia sniffing out landmines and other explosives
APOPO said Magawa died “peacefully” at the weekend after being in “good health” and spending his last few days “playing with his usual enthusiasm”.
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However, he started to slow down, napping more and showing less interest in food closer to his death.
“All of us at APOPO are feeling the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he’s done,” the charity said.
“During his career, Magawa found over 100 landmines and other explosives, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT to date.
“His contribution allows communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play; without fear of losing life or limb.”
Since 2000, the organisation has worked to train and breed landmine detection rats at its operational headquarters at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania – where Magawa was born and developed his impressive nose for explosives.
At the age of three, he moved to Siem Reap in Cambodia and began his work.
A lasting legacy
Image: Magawa had been awarded a PDSA Gold Medal
APOPO also works with programmes in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to clear millions of mines left behind from previous conflicts.
“Over 60 million people living in 59 countries from Cambodia to Zimbabwe, do so in daily fear of landmines and other remnants of past conflict,” the charity’s statement continued.
“Clearing minefields is intense, difficult, dangerous work and demands accuracy and time. This is where APOPO’s animal detection systems can increase efficiency and cut costs.
“It is thanks to all of you that Magawa will leave a lasting legacy in the lives that he saved as a landmine detection rat in Cambodia.”
Source : Sky News