Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - World mourns Cambodia’s mine-sniffing rat Magawa

World mourns Cambodia’s mine-sniffing rat Magawa

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The heroic rat Magawa in an undated photo posted on APOPO’s HeroRATs Facebook page on Tuesday. APOPO

World mourns Cambodia’s mine-sniffing rat Magawa

The loss of landmine-hunting rat Magawa is being mourned by many people around the world who remember his prolific career working with demining operators in Cambodia to locate landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said he was saddened to hear of Magawa’s death over the weekend at the age of 8.

Thuch noted that Dutch demining operator Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO) had trained the rats to assist their staff on mine clearance work in Cambodia with great success over the years.

“They made a huge contribution to mine clearance in Cambodia. Magawa alone contributed a lot and had many achievements which APOPO and everyone working in the field should be proud of,” he said. “We are genuinely saddened by Magawa’s death.”

Magawa made the Guinness World Record book for “Most Landmines Detected by a Rat” with an official tally of 71 mines and 38 UXO units at the time of publication.

Magawa died over the weekend following a period of declining health at the wizened old age of 8 – a period of longevity thought to be near the outermost limits for lifespan in the Gambian giant pouched rat species, even in captivity.

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

According to APOPO’s press release, Magawa found over 100 dangerous and potentially explosive objects, making him their most successful mine-hunting rat ever.

“His contribution allows communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play without fear of losing life or limb,” the statement said.

In September 2020, Magawa was formally presented with a PDSA Gold Medal – the highest award for gallantry an animal can receive in the UK, equivalent to the George Cross awarded to humans. He retired last year.

Magawa was trained by APOPO experts in Tanzania and then transferred to Cambodia at the age of nine months to begin his long career.

APOPO and the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) are currently training 20 more rats for mine clearance work. Last December, CMAC and APOPO signed a new agreement on mine clearance, including the use of rats and dogs as part of their core operations.

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol