A RAT who detected over 100 landmines and other explosives, allowing communities in Cambodia to live, work and play without fear of losing life or limb, has passed away.
Magawa the rat was eight years old and was formally presented with a PDSA gold medal in September 2020 - the highest award for gallantry an animal can receive.
He retired last year, and passed away peacefully at the weekend, the animal landmine detection charity APOPO said, when he started to slow down.
"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 in a statement.
"During his career, Magawa found over 100 landmines and other explosives, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT to date.
"Every discovery he made reduced the risk of injury or death for the people of Cambodia."
Magawa was an African giant pouched rat and was born in Tanzania in 2013 at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, where APOPO has been breeding and training landmine detection rats since 2000.
He began his career in Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2016, and managed to clear more than 225,000sq m of land (the equivalent of about 31 football pitches) and discovered 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, the charity previously said.
"Over 60 million people living in 59 countries from Cambodia to Zimbabwe, do so in daily fear of landmines and other remnants of past conflict," the statement continued.
"Landmines are still inflicting pain and fear to a new generation of Cambodian people, a generation that wasn’t even born when these mines were laid.
"Landmines are still inflicting pain and fear to a new generation of Cambodian people, a generation that wasn’t even born when these mines were laid. Clearing minefields is intense, difficult, dangerous work and demands accuracy and time. This is where APOPO’s animal detection systems can increase efficiency and cut costs.
"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."