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Indeed, a rat wearing medals can look a bit comical, but in this case, the humour goes by the wayside. Magawa the mouse earned his little gold medal for his service to APOPO, an organisation whose aim is to seek out mined areas, clear them of mines and make available to the locals another piece of precious land that they dared not cultivate before. We also supported Magawu and visited him several times during our stay in Cambodia. We were very saddened by the news of his death. Let's at least acknowledge his importance with the following article that we dedicate to this rat hero.

Magawa - the brave savior of lives

Magawa performed his service in Cambodia, which is still considered one of the most landmine-contaminated countries in the world. It is a remnant of the bloody genocide of the Khmer Rouge, who killed or severely injured more than 64,000 people in the country. It is thanks to the work of Magawa, his rat colleagues and the entire team in Cambodia that mines in rural areas can be found by the hundreds.

There are several reasons why rats are used to find mines. These animals have a highly developed sense of smell and, if they undergo the right training, are able to sniff out the chemicals inside mines and mark the spot. Their reward, of course, is a treat. At the same time, their weight is so low that they can run through the minefield without fear of activating the device with their little paw and causing an explosion.

A rat can't do without a man - and a man can't do without a rat

As a result, Magawa was able to search an area the size of a tennis court in thirty minutes, which would have taken a normal person with a detector several days. Yet this rat hero has never been on a search alone - a man with a detector always accompanies him to confirm his find.

According to statistics, the rats have managed to locate a total of nearly 65,000 landmines hidden in the ground, protecting 1.7 million people from possible injury or even death. It is therefore important to highlight and commemorate heroes such as Magawa, who enjoyed a well-deserved rest in his final years and who became a role model for many of his successors.

Photo source: PDSA

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