International News

‘Hero rat’ Magawa dies at the age of eight

Magawa the rat born and bred in Tanzania to find landmines and explosives has died aged eight.

You may wonder what’s special about this rat, well, Magawa the rat received a medal in 2020 known as PDSA Gold Medal for his exemplary work in finding explosives.

The medal also known as the George Cross for animals was given to the rat for animal bravery and devotion to the duty of animals.

In its five-year career before retirement, Magawa was a very successful rodent in Cambodia in South Asia finding over 100 landmines and explosives.

Magawa was trained by the Belgian Charity Apopo to alert humans’ handlers about the mines so they can be safely removed.

Bred in Tanzania, Magawa underwent a year of training before moving to Cambodia to begin his bomb-sniffing career.

The life span of a rat is between one to two years. Wild rats can live for two years but urban rats, their deaths are unpredictable.

But for Magawa he lived for 8 years, weighed 1.2 kgs and was 70cm long which is far large than many rat species.

His weight and length enabled him not to trigger explosives when he stepped on them.

‘‘Magawa was heathy and enthusiastic as usual but for the last one week, it showed signs of lacking appetite and was napping a lot an uncommon trait that was never witnessed but, on the weekend, it passed away in his sleep”, said a statement from the Belgian charity.

Even in his death, the special rat will be fondly missed but the good news is, he trained other sniffing rats to pick up his job when he retired.

By Purity Nyang’ara

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