Cambodia’s landmine-hunting rat that found more than 100 landmines buried in the ground died, and people expressed their condolences by referring to it as “HeroRat.”
The BBC reported on Tuesday that African giant pouched rat Magawa (meaning ‘courage’) has died at the age of 8 last weekend. Magawa was born in Tanzania in 2013 at Sokoine University and trained to sniff out landmines. The New York Times reported that a giant rat is capable of searching a field the size of a tennis court in 30 minutes, which would take a human with metal detector up to four days.
Magawa began his bomb-sniffing career in 2016 in Cambodia. There are still millions of landmines buried across the Cambodian landscape, which underwent a brutal civil war in 1960s and 1970s. Magawa searched for mines in an area of approximately 225,000 square meters, finding 71 landmines and 38 unexploded devices. In 2020, Magawa won a gold medal from the British veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. Magawa retired in June last year, after five years in service.
“Magawa’s contribution has allowed communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play, without fear of losing life or limb,” said APOPO, the mine-clearing non-governmental organization that trained Magawa. “His lasting legacy in the lives that he saved will always be remembered.”