The non-governmental organization that trained it said on Tuesday that a minesweeper rat had been awarded a medal for bravery in Cambodia after helping to save human lives.
Magawa, a giant African rat from Tanzania, helped clear about 225,000 square meters of land, the equivalent of 42 football fields, during his five-year career. After uncovering more than 100 mines and other explosives, the large rodent retired last June.
The Belgian NGO Abobo said in a statement that Magawa passed away “peacefully” last weekend at the age of eight. “We at APOPO all feel the loss of Magawa and are grateful for the wonderful work he did.”
Abobo reported that Magawa was in good health and spent most of the weekend with his usual enthusiasm, but was beginning to show signs of tiredness, “sleeping more with little appetite”.
Working in Asia and Africa, the NGO trained mice by rewarding them with their favorite food, bananas and peanuts. To discover TNT in explosives, APOPO taught him to scratch the ground to indicate its presence to humans.
This technology, which does not depend on the presence of scrap, allows you to work much faster than with a metal detector.
At 70 cm tall, Magawa was able to search the equivalent of a tennis court in 30 minutes, a task that could take up to four days for a person equipped with a metal detector.
In September 2020, Magawa was awarded a gold medal by the British Animal Welfare Society PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), which annually awards an animal for its bravery. Magawa was the first rat to receive the award, considered the animal equivalent of the George’s Cross, the UK’s highest civilian award.
According to the PDSA, between four and six million mines were planted in Cambodia from 1975 to 1998, killing more than 64,000 people.
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