Magawa, the landmine rat, dies aged 8

During the weekend of January 8, the ʺ hero rat ʺ mine detector known as Magawa died at the age of 8. During its life, the giant African rat received several titles and awards thanks to its incredible talent in detecting landmines.

In addition to being the world record holder for the most landmines detected by a rat in a career (71 mines), Magawa is also the first non-canine animal to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal. It is a reward similar to the George Cross medal, granted to animals for their bravery.

PDSA Credits Magawa was trained by APOPO, a Belgian charity, to detect unexploded landmines in Cambodia. The rat became the most successful among those they trained.

The Story of ʺ Hero Rat ʺ Magawa

Magawa was born in 1015 at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. This is also where all of APOPO’s landmine detection rats are born and trained. At the age of three, Magawa was sent to Siem Reap, Cambodia. He started detecting mines in 2017 and retired last year at the age of seven years.

In addition to the many mines he discovered, he also detected 38 pieces of explosive warfare including mortars and grenades that have not yet exploded.

According to APOPO, Magawa reduced the risks injury or death for the Cambodian population thanks to its detections. This has allowed the different communities to live freely and without fear.

The work of APOPO and mine detection rats

According to APOPO’s explanations, rats can move on mines without triggering them thanks to their small size and weight lightweight. They can detect bombs by sniffing out the chemicals they contain. So, if for a human, searching an area the size of a tennis court can take between one and four days, a rat can do it in only 20 minutes.

The organization works in several countries of the world. Its role is to remove and deactivate landmines that past conflicts have left behind. According to the explanations, their detection systems using animals make it possible to increase the efficiency of the clearance of minefields which is both difficult and dangerous. They also reduce mission costs.

Even though many are unaware of Magawa’s existence, the missions he completed in Cambodia show that he was a true ʺheroʺ.

SOURCE: 2017Guinness World Records