Magawa, the anti-personnel mine-detector “hero rat”, has died at the age of eight.
The giant African rat in pocket, which sniffed landmines and other explosives in Cambodia, was one of the most successful rodents trained by the Belgian charity APOPO.
During his five-year career, he managed to clear more than 225,000 square meters of land – the equivalent of about 31 football pitches – and discovered 71 landmines and 38 unexploded ordnance, the association said. charity previously.
In 2020, he became the first rat to be received the PDSA gold medal, the animal equivalent of the George Cross which recognizes the heroism acts of British citizens and military personnel.
A year later, Magawa, also known as the “rat hero”, decided to take a backseat of action and retired, with his charity stick taken over by another rodent named Ronin.
“We are grateful for the incredible work he has done”
APOPO said Magawa passed away “peacefully” over the weekend after being “in good health” and spending his last days “playing with his usual enthusiasm”.
However, he started to slow down, taking more naps and showing less interest in food closer to his death.
“All of us at APOPO feel the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he has 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 Cambodian communities to live, work and play, without fear of losing their life or a member.
Since 2000, the organization has worked to train and breed landmine detector 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 job.
A lasting legacy
APOPO is also working with programs in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to clear millions of landmines left by previous conflicts.
“More than 60 million people living in 59 countries, from Cambodia to Zimbabwe, do so in daily fear of landmines and other vestiges of past conflicts,” the association’s statement continued.
“Minefield clearance is intense, difficult and dangerous work, requiring precision and time. This is where APOPO’s animal detection systems can increase efficiency and reduce costs.
“It is thanks to all of you that Magawa will leave a lasting legacy in the lives he saved as a mine detector rat in Cambodia.”