‘A hero is laid to rest’: Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing rat dies | News about weapons

Medal-winning Magawa spun out more than 100 landmines and explosives over the course of its five-year career.

Magawa, the landmine-sniffing rodent that found more than 100 landmines and explosives in Cambodia and won a medal for heroism, has died at the age of eight, according to the charity that trained him.

Magawa, who retired in June last year, died over the weekend, the international non-profit organization APOPO announced on Tuesday.

“Magawa was in good health and spent most of last week playing with his usual enthusiasm, but towards the weekend he began to slow down, slept more and showed less interest in food in his last days,” APOPO said in a statement. .

Cambodia, scarred by decades of civil war, is one of the world’s most mined countries, with more than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square kilometers) of land still contaminated.

Belgium-based APOPO trains African giant pouch rats to detect landmines and calls them “HeroRATs”.

Using the rats to sniff out the mines makes it less dangerous for the human traders who have to disarm and remove the weapons.

“All of us at APOPO feel the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he has done,” the organization said in a heartfelt tribute. “His contribution enables communities in Cambodia to live, work and play without fear of losing lives or limbs.”

To illustrate the extreme risks involved, three Cambodians working on clearing mines died Monday in a province bordering Thailand.

The three from Cambodia’s self-help mine clearance group were killed by explosions from anti-tank mines, which also injured two others, said Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center.

In 2020, Magawa was honored with a gold medal from the UK-based People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals for “life-saving bravery and devotion to duty” – the first rat to receive the award.

Magawa was bred in Tanzania and was brought to Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2016 to start clearing mines.

“A hero is at rest,” APOPO said.

Magawa stands on his hind legs to take a snack from the fingers of his driver while working on finding landmines in a field in CambodiaMagawa, an African giant bag rat, gets a treat while he’s working to discover landmines in Cambodia. [File: PDSA via AFP]

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