The giant African pocket rat found more than 100 landmines and other explosives during his service, according to APOPO, the non-governmental demining organization that trained him.
Her work earned her a gold medal from the British veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in 2020.
Announcing the news on Tuesday, APOPO said, “It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that HeroRAT Magawa passed away peacefully over the weekend. Magawa was in good health and spent most of the last week in playing with his usual enthusiasm, but around the weekend he started to slow down, taking more naps and showing less interest in food in his dying days. Magawa had recently celebrated his birthday in November, reaching age 8 years old. “
The tribute said Magawa left “a lasting legacy in the lives he saved”, adding: “All of us at APOPO feel the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he has done.”
Magawa, who retired last year, is APOPO’s “rat hero” to date, the organization said.
“His contribution enables Cambodian communities to live, work and play, without fear of losing their life or a member,” APOPO added.
Giant African pocket rats are smart and easy to train – Magawa started training at a young age.
He was born in November 2013 at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, where he learned to find explosives using his incredible sense of smell, APOPO said. Three years later, he moved to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where he began his career.
APOPO trains rats to smell the explosive chemicals used in landmines and report them to their owners.
Magawa’s work has helped the organization clear more than 225,000 square meters of land in Cambodia, where decades of conflict have left the landscape strewn with dangerous unexploded devices.