HeroRAT Magawa to Retire This Month

HeroRAT Magawa will retire this month after five years of service, announced today APOPO a registered Belgian non-governmental organisation and U.S. non-profit which trains southern giant pouched rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis.

"During his illustrious five-year career, HeroRAT Magawa’s work has directly saved the lives of men, women and children who were impacted by hidden landmines and other deadly remnants of war. Every discovery he made reduced the risk of injury or death for the people of Cambodia," the source said.

Magawa is an African giant pouched rat that was born in Tanzania in November 2014, he said, adding that he grew up at APOPO's Training and Research centre in Tanzania where he learned how to find explosives using his amazing sense of smell. Magawa then moved to Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2016, where he began his successful career.

According to APOPO, to date Magawa has found 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT. Over the past five years, he has helped clear over 225,000 square metres of land, allowing local communities to live, work, play and be educated; without fear of losing life or limb.

Last September, veteran Magawa was formally presented with a suitably rat-sized PDSA Gold Medal – the animal equivalent of the George Cross – by the PDSA’s Director General Jan McLoughlin. He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honouring animals to receive a PDSA Medal – joining a line-up of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.

APOPO’s Cambodia programme began in 2016 and now clears more land each year than any other APOPO programme. In 2020 alone, APOPO Cambodia cleared 4,389,935 square metres. This would not have been possible without the help of little heroes like Magawa.

Last week, a group of 20 newly trained landmine detection rats that arrived in Cambodia in March, were tested by the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) and passed with flying colors. All the new recruits went through a period of acclimatisation and retraining with their new Cambodian handlers. Now that they have received their external accreditation, they have been cleared to join team Magawa on the minefields.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press