RIP Magawa: HeroRAT of Cambodia known for sniffing out landmines has died

The world’s most famous — and decorated — mine-detection rat, Magawa, has “passed away peacefully” at the “grand old age of 8.”

Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, was part of APOPO’s successful HeroRAT program, a charity that has been training rats to detect landmines since the early 1990s.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that HeroRAT Magawa passed away peacefully this weekend,” APOPO announced late Monday. “Magawa was in good health and spent most of last week playing with his usual enthusiasm, but towards the weekend he started to slow down, napping more and showing less interest in food in his last days.”

Magawa celebrated his eighth birthday in November.

“All of us at APOPO are feeling the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he’s done,” the charity said.

Magawa found more than 100 landmines and other explosives during his career, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT. Magawa retired from active duty last year.

Magawa was the world’s most successful landmine-detection rat. Photo: APOPO/Facebook

In 2020, PDSA, a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom, gave Magawa its top civilian award for animal bravery.

Magawa was the first rat to win PDSA’s award for bravery. Photo: PDSA/Facebook

“We received the very sad news that #PDSAGoldMedal recipient, Magawa the HeroRAT, passed away over the weekend,” PDSA wrote. “Magawa was a landmine detection rat and was awarded for his life-saving work in Cambodia.

He discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance when he received the honour, a first for a rat in the charity’s history.

“Rest in peace, Magawa ❤️,” PDSA added.

Magawa’s work will live on.

“His contribution allows communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play; without fear of losing life or limb,” APOPO added.

“It is thanks to all of you that Magawa will leave a lasting legacy in the lives that he saved as a landmine detection rat in Cambodia. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for your support during this difficult time.”

For such a tiny soul, Magawa’s work really is inspirational and life changing.

A lesson for us all: Small creatures can make big impacts.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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