Landmine-detecting ‘hero’ rat Magawa dies at age 8

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Landmine-detecting ‘hero’ rat Magawa dies at age 8

Image credit: People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (WTVO) – Magawa, an award-winning rat famous for sniffing out landmines, has died at 8 years old.

Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, located more than 100 landmines and explosives in Cambodia before retiring from his five-year career in June 2021. The year prior, he received a UK vet charity’s PDSA Gold Medal, sometimes called the “George Cross for animals,” according to the BBC.

Apopo, a Belgian charity based in Tanzania, trained Magawa and other rodents to alert human handlers to the location of landmines. The charity said that Magawa, their most successful, “passed away peacefully” over the weekend, though he had grown tired in his last days.

“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 in a statement.

His small stature, weighing 2.6 pounds and measuring just over 2 feet long, helped him to not trigger landmines as he walked over them. He covered more than 1.5 million square feet of land during his time as a detection rat.

Magawa’s discoveries decreased the risk for Cambodians of injury or death from landmines, Apopo said. According to the BBC, there are a suspected 6 million landmines in the country.

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