Hero rat Magawa laid to rest after a life spent detecting mines

The rodent's light weight and ability to sniff out TNT saved countless lives

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A very special rat was laid to rest at the weekend after eight years spent saving human lives by sniffing out landmines in Cambodia.

The rodent, an African giant pouched rat called Magawa, unearthed more than 100 mines and other explosives in his career.

Apopo, an organisation that works to clear unexploded ordnance, said Magawa was its most successful "HeroRat" so far.

Magawa began his career in Siem Reapm in Cambodia in 2016. Four years later, he was presented with a PDSA gold medal – the highest award for gallantry an animal can receive.

Magawa was awarded a PDSA gold medal – the highest award for gallantry an animal can receive.

More than 60 million people living in 59 countries from Cambodia to Zimbabwe live in daily fear of landmines and other remnants of past conflict, Apopo said.

Since 2000, it has developed a training and breeding centre at Tanzania's Sokoine University of Agriculture. It was here that Magawa was born in 2013.

“A hero laid to rest ... Magawa will leave a lasting legacy in the lives that he saved as a landmine detection rat in Cambodia,” Apopo said in a tribute.

The organisation also trains rats and dogs to sniff out landmines and tuberculosis.

Its rats can detect the chemical compounds of TNT found in landmines and other ordnance. They ignore scrap metal, making them much faster at detecting landmines than metal detectors.

The giant African pouched rat's highly developed sense of smell and light weight make them ideal for detecting landmines.

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Updated: January 12, 2022, 11:02 AM