Rat that detected land mines in Cambodia dies in retirement

12 January 2022, 11:44

Magawa
Rat awarded PDSA Gold Medal. Picture: PA

Magawa detected more than 100 land mines and other explosives during his five-year career.

A land mine-detecting rat in Cambodia who received a prestigious award for his life-saving duty has died in retirement, a charity has announced.

Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, died last weekend, according to APOPO, a Belgium-based non-profit group which trains rats and dogs to sniff out land mines and tuberculosis.

“All of us at APOPO are feeling the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he’s done,” the announcement said.

Magawa in action
Magawa in action (PDSA/PA)

Magawa was born in November 2013 in Tanzania, where APOPO maintains its operational headquarters and training and breeding centre. He was sent to Cambodia in 2016.

His death was announced a day after three mine removal experts working for another group were killed by an accidental explosion of an anti-tank mine in Cambodia’s northern province of Preah Vihear.

Almost three decades of civil war that ended in 1998 left Cambodia littered with land mines and other unexploded ordnance that continues to kill and maim.

APOPO’s office in Cambodia posted condolences for the three dead and one wounded from the Cambodia Self Help Demining group.

According to APOPO, Magawa detected more than 100 land mines and other explosives during his five-year career before retiring last year.

“His contribution allows communities in Cambodia to live, work and play without fear of losing life or limb,” said the group.

In 2020, Magawa won a gold medal from the Britain-based People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, considered the highest award for gallantry an animal can receive.

African giant pouched rats are believed to be especially well-suited for land mine clearance because their small size lets them walk across mine fields without triggering the explosives.

Magawa
Magawa won a gold medal from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA/PA)

In retirement in Cambodia’s north-western province of Siem Reap, Magawa was housed in his usual cage, and fed the same food — mostly fresh fruit and vegetables — that sustained him during his active career.

To keep him trim, he was released for 20-30 minutes a day into a larger cage with facilities such as a sandbox and a running wheel.

His death at the age of eight was not unusual for the species.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Firefighters tackling a blaze near Saint-Magne, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France

Firefighters battle major wildfire in France

Mohammad Arada looks at the rubble of his family house after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip

Death toll from weekend Israel-Gaza fighting rises to 47

Krisztina plays with her children on their balcony in Budapest, Hungary

In Pictures: How people in Budapest are keeping cool amidst heatwave

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, leaves a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Wednesday August 10 2022

Photographs of basketball star Kobe Bryant’s body were ‘shared for a laugh’

Courtney Clenney has been arrested on suspicion of murder

Social media model Courtney Clenney arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of murder

Virus Outbreak North Korea

Kim Jong Un ‘suffered fever’ during North Korea’s Covid wave, says his sister

Russia Ukraine War

Satellite images show Crimea airbase damaged after apparent Ukrainian attack

The Spanish government has limited air conditioning and heating

Spain cracks down on air conditioning and heating in bid to save energy

Former US national security adviser John Bolton

Iranian operative charged in plot to murder Trump security adviser John Bolton

A resident sits on the sea wall as smoke rises in the background from a deadly fire at a large oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba

Firefighters subdue deadly blaze at key oil facility in Cuba

Rising smoke can be seen from the beach at Saky after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea

Ukraine says nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in Crimea blasts

The river Rhine is pictured with low water in Cologne, Germany

Fears mount that water levels in Rhine river could fall below critical mark

Former US president Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday August 10 2022 in New York

Donald Trump says he took the fifth amendment in New York investigation

Former US president Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, late on Tuesday August 9 2022, in New York

Donald Trump arrives to give evidence in New York investigation

Taiwan’s military conducts artillery live-fire drills at Fangshan township in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, Tuesday, August 9, 2022

China appears to wind down threatening war games near Taiwan

People line up to enter an H&M shop and buy items on sale in the Aviapark shopping centre in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday August 9 2022

Russians buy last goods from H&M and Ikea as stores wind down