Every hard working man, women and even four legged animals deserves a well deserved retirement after years of service. This little tine hero definitely earned his retirement. The heroic rat named Magawa spent the last five years in Cambodia sniffing out land mines and has saved human lives in the process.
Tiny Magawa played a large and very important role in finding hidden land mines and other remnants of war and now after his great service and protection he will forever be known as a HeroRAT.
Little Magawa saved many men, women and children from injury and death with his adorable and life saving skill of detecting land mines. Throughout his years of service he has found 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance to date. His discoveries makes him the most successful HeroRAT in APOPO, which is a non-profit providing low-tech, cost-efficient solutions to humanitarian issues.
APOPO breeds cohorts of rats expressly for the purpose of sniffing explosives. Magawa was born in Tanzania in 2014, which is where he learned to hone his amazing sense of smell and earn positive reinforcements (a banana) when he identifies an explosive odor. Scientists discovered that rats are ideal for this sort of dangerous work as they don’t only have the skill to smell explosives but they are too light to trigger land mines and simply scratch atop them to tell their handler of their discovery.
Christophe Cox, APOPO's CEO and co-founder, explained during the PDSA ceremony, that “We really trust our rats, because very often after clearing a minefield, our teams will play a game of soccer on the cleared field to assure the quality of our work.”
For his hard work and bravery, the UK charity PDSA awarded him a gold medal in 2020. PDSA Chair John Smith added during the virtual award ceremony that, “This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat.”
APOPO explained, “Although still in good health, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down. It is time.” Magawa entered his new retired life the end of June 2021.