Magawa detected more than 100 land mines and other explosives and won a medal during his five-year career before retiring last year.

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

A landmine-detecting rat in Cambodia who received a prestigious award for his life-saving duty has died in retirement of the charity for which he had worked.

“All of us at APOPO are feeling the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he’s done,” said an announcement on the website of APOPO, a Belgium-headquartered non-profit group.

The organisation trains rats and dogs to sniff out land mines and tuberculosis said Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, passed away last weekend.

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.

READ MORE: Long after war ends, landmines continue to pose a threat

Magawa services lauded

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.

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

READ MORE: Magawa the rat wins a medal for sniffing out landmines in Cambodia 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies