Cambodia’s ‘hero’ Rat Magawa who unearthed more than 100 landmines, explosives dies in retirement

Magawa, who retired in June 2021, received a gold medal for “life-saving bravery” in 2020.

Phnom Penh:

Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing rat Magawa, who found more than 100 landmines and explosives during a five-year career, has died at the age of 8, leaving a lasting legacy of lives saved in the Southeast Asian nation Went.

Magawa, who died over the weekend, was the most successful “herorat” deployed by the international charity APOPO, which uses African giant pouched rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis.

The non-profit organization said in a statement, “Magawa was in good health and played with his usual enthusiasm for most of the past week, but over the weekend he began to slow down, take more naps and take less interest in food in his final days.” was showing.” Statement.

Scared by decades of civil war, Cambodia is one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world, with more than 1,000 square km (386 sq mi) of land still contaminated.

It is also one of the most disabled per capita, with more than 40,000 people having lost limbs to explosives.

Describing the extreme risks involved, three Cambodians working to clear mines died on Monday in Preah Vihar province, which borders Thailand.

Heng Ratan, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, said three anti-tank mines from the Cambodian Self-Help Demining Group were killed, leaving two others wounded.

APOPO said Magawa’s contribution allowed communities in Cambodia to live, work and play more safely.

“Every discovery they made reduced the risk of injury or death to the people of Cambodia,” APOPO said.

The African giant pouched rat received a gold medal for “life-saving bravery and devotion to duty” from Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in 2020.

Magawa, who retired in June 2021, was born in Tanzania and moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2016 to start cleaning the mines.

“A hero has been laid to rest,” said APOPO.