Cambodia is a South East Asian country which is the highest contaminated with Land mines and Unexploded Ordnances or bombs (UXO) in the world. Cambodia has almost 64000 casualties and 25,000 amputees due to land mines since 1979 and it is highest amount of amputees per capita and 621 Sq.miles of its land contains mine which are results of the civil war between 1970 and 1980.
Cambodia started a mission to identify these UXO’s and mines and there comes the APOPO. It is a training center that trains African Giant pouched rats and dogs for finding Landmines and Tuberculosis. Rats here train over an year and gets certified trained professional and then deployed in missions.
Magawa is an 7 year old rat which had recently retired from its duties because of the age factor after finding 39 land mines and 28 unexploded munitions. Its team had total sniffed 71 landmines. It had won a gold medal for its Bravery and Life saving duties from Britain’s people’s dispensary for sick animals. Magawa is the 1st rat to receive this honorable award.
Later to continue the explorations after its retirement, a new batch of 20 rats has been recruited and they are undergoing immense training in Tanzania. Here they are trained to sniff different odours to differentiate chemicals and scraps. These rats work precisely no matter whoever their handlers are. The most important quality in gem is they don’t bite.
Generally African Giant Rats are huge in size than normal rats but much lighter to stand on the land mine. Magawa used to roam the fields and at once it finds the top of a landmine, it scratches the land and alerts its human team members.
Magawa had the ability to search field as size of Tennis court in just 20 minutes where else it takes between 1 to 4 days for a human with metal detector in same sized land.
Magawa joined in duty when it was 2 years old and stood in hearts of many families who had lost their limbs and lives. Now Magawa enjoys it’s after retirement life with its humans friends and handlers.
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Magawa has passed since this article- RIP Magawa. It’s sad and really terrifying that there are so many uncleared landmines the Cambodian people are still dealing with. It’s amazing that they have created such a successful system with these rats.