Feel free to print out these pages and do your own coloring. I’d love to see any of your beautiful pictures so why not upload them to Instagram or Twitter and tag me @JodieParachini ?

Togo and Balto 1
Togo and Balto 2
Togo and Balto 3
Beautiful Jim 1
Beautiful Jim 2
Beautiful Jim 3
Spidernaut 1
Spidernaut 2
Spidernaut 3
Spidernaut 4

One thought on “ACTIVITIES

  1. The Birds & the Hero Rats


    Billy Corr

    Begun 28 February / 1 March 2023

    In Memoriam [picture of Magawa wearing his medal]

    Magawa, 2014 – 2022 the truly heroic Hero Rat.

    In the course of a five-year career in Cambodia, Magawa successfully detected seventy-one landmines and one hundred and thirty-eight other ERW [Explosive Remnants of War] and made safe 141,000 square meters of soil, the same area as 20 football pitches.

    In 2020. Magawa was awarded a gold medal by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a British charity.

    NOTES FOR THE TEACHER [in English, Khmer & Chinese]
    A Belgian man called Bert Weetjens owned and bred small animals, like mice, rats and gerbils to pet shops. In Europe and also in North America, many people – especially children – keep small animals as pets.
    One day, Bert Weetjens read a magazine article about how gerbils have an astonishing sense of smell and he had a clever idea. He thought that rats could be trained to smell the explosive TNT [trinitrotuolene] in land mines as well as finding bombs and shells buried in the soil. Every year, many thousands of people in countries on every continent are killed and maimed by Unexploded Ordnance [UXOs] left behind by wars.
    In 2021, 5,544 people were killed or injured by UXOs in many countries throughout the world.
    Between 1979 and August 2022, 19,818 people were killed by Explosive Remnants of War [ERW} in Cambodia, while 45,186 people were injured. More recently, in all the months of 2022, 10 people were killed, 24 others were injured and 7 required amputations of shattered limbs. It is estimated that over a thousand square kilometers of Cambodia are still dangerous because of hidden UXOs.
    After some experimentation, African pouched rats were found to be the most suitable animals for the task of finding TNT by sniffing the soil. In 1997, Bert Weetjens and a friend from his schooldays, Christophe Cox, with the generous assistance of Professor Marc Billet, the founder of the Institute for Product Development, began APOPO – Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling or [in English] Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development. The University of Antwerp, in Belgium, was a participant in the development from the beginning.
    Bert Weetjens is now a Buddhist, like most Cambodians; he encourages other Europeans to become Buddhists.
    Now, Southern African Giant Pouched Rats [cricetomys ansorgei] are bred and trained at Sokoine University for Agriculture in Morogoro in Tanzania, a big country in East Africa. These trained rats work every day to detect landmines and other UXOs in Cambodia as well as in African countries like Mozambique.
    By 2017, trained rats had detected over a hundred thousand UXOs / ERWs in Cambodia and Africa. The APOPO rats have such sensitive organs of small that they can detect one-trillionth of a gram of TNT.
    Sixty rats are working in four provinces in Cambodia in 2023 and many APOPO rats are at work every day in Africa. All this is made possible by financial assistance from many countries; it costs $8,000 to train a rat to sniff the explosive TNT and get it right every time. Even the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein, one of the world’s smallest countries, contributes funds to APOPO’
    Rats are much cheaper to train and feed than dogs; five rats can be trained for the same price as training one dog and the TNT-sniffing rats live happily and healthily on a diet of bananas and peanuts. Now, Southern African Giant Pouched Rats [cricetomys ansorgei] are bred and trained at Sokoine University for Agriculture at Morogoro in Tanzania.
    [map of Africa showing Tanzania]
    The African Pouched Rats have another useful skill they use to save human lives, detecting the killer disease tuberculosis [TB]. Just as the mine-sniffing rats are much quicker than humans to sniff the explosive TNT, the rats sniffing for TB can detect minute signs of the disease rapidly and accurately. Over a thousand Africans are killed by TB every day and twice as many Cambodians die of TB as are killed by landmines.
    Of course, one the land-mines / UXOs / ERWs have been found by the Hero-Rats, fearless and skilled men and women have the task of lifting them or exploding them in place. This is dangerous work; three mine-clearers were killed by explosions in 2022.
    [picture of human mine-clearers at work]
    This book would not have been possible without the willing assistance of the staff at the APOPO Visitors’ Centre in Siem Reap and, of course, the TNT-sniffing rats resident at the APOPO Visitors’ Centre.
    [ Picture of APOPO Visitors’ Center]
    [map of Cambodia showing Siem Reap and Angkor Wat]
    In early March 2023, the resident rats were: Dora. Ezron. Sharon. Sophia. Valeria and Zephania

    *** The text of the book follows ***
    THE BIRDS AND THE HERO RATS [pictures of black baza(s)]
    ស្ទាំងកំប៉ោយខ្មៅស in Khmer, pronounced Stang Kompoy Khmao-Sor
    A pair of black baza birds were swooping and soaring in the warm sky over the majestic ruins
    of Angkor Wat, the most famous place in Cambodia.
    Da and Ry ate insects, catching them in mid-air or snatching them from the leaves of trees and
    [picture of Angkor Wat and the moat]
    Sometimes, the two birds flew low over the moat at Angkor Wat, snatching dragonflies
    flying just above the calm blue water.
    One day, Da and Ry were feeding close to the ground when they saw two furry animals.
    [picture of two African pouched rats]
    “What are those animals?” Da said to Ry,
    “I don’t know. I never saw them before,” Ry replied. “Let’s go and talk to them.”
    The two birds landed close to the two furry animals and hopped close enough to be able to talk to
    “Hello,” said the two birds. The animals looked at the two birds and came closer.
    “Hello,” said the two animals.
    “We haven’t seen you before,” said Ry. “Are you Cambodians like we are?”
    “We live and work here now,” said one of the two animals. “We are pouched rats from Africa.
    Our names are Zephania and Dora. We were born in Tanzania, a big country in East Africa.”
    “What do you do?” asked Da. [pictures of land mines, bombs, grenades and rockets]
    “We search for explosives in land mines, bombs, grenades and rockets,” Dora said.
    “Our work saves many lives.”
    “How do you do that?” asked Ry. “Can you see land mines and other things
    hidden in the soil?”
    “No. We don’t have sharp eyes and we see very well. Not like you birds,” Zephania said.
    “We can’t see very well but we can smell well. Our noses are very sensitive and we were trained
    very carefully in Africa before we came to Cambodia.” Dora said.
    “Did you go to a school in Africa?” Ry asked.
    [picture of Sekoine University for Agriculture at Morogoro in Tanzania]
    “Yes. We were trained at Sekoine University for Agriculture at Morogoro in Tanzania.
    APOPO is a non-Government Organization {NGO] which started in Belgium when some people
    had the idea of training African rats like us to find explosives.
    We started training early. When we were four weeks old, we learned to be calm
    and docile when people touched us, stroked us and picked us up. Later we learned how to sniff
    for explosives. Every time we find something, we get a reward of bananas and peanuts.”
    said Dora.
    “We trained in Tanzania for a year. Both of us passed all our tests. Then we said goodbye to
    Africa and came out to Cambodia to find hidden explosives and save people’s lives.”
    “Do you always work with people?” asked Da.
    “Yes we do. We wear a harness when we work so our handlers can guide us and work with us.
    There are sixty rats working to sniff for dangerous explosives in four provinces
    of Cambodia,” Zephania said.
    “Why do you need to sniff for explosives?” Ry asked. “Can’t people look and see them?”
    “We need to sniff for the explosives because the bombs and other explosives are often hidden
    under trees or bushes or buried in the ground. Nobody can see them easily,” Zephania said.
    “Cambodia was at war for many years,” Dora said. “Big and small bombs were dropped
    by airplanes. People fired rockets and threw grenades at each other.
    [picture of Khmer Rouge with RPG launcher on shoulder]
    Thousands of mines were buried in the soil and now nobody remembers where they are.”
    Zephania said
    “The last fighting was over twenty years ago but even now people in Cambodia are killed
    and injured by land mines and other explosives every year,” Dora said. “Some of the mines are
    very small, like a small fruit, and some of them are really big.”
    “Are there a lot of explosives here in Cambodia?” Ry asked.
    “Nobody knows exactly but some people think there may be five or six million explosives in
    Cambodia,” Zephania said.
    [pictures of land mine amputees – young and old]
    “I want to tell you about Magawa, the most famous Hero Rat,” Zephania said.
    “Yes, please tell us,” Da and Ry replied.
    The Life and Death of Magawa, the most famous Hero Rat
    “Magawa was born in Tanzania, like we were,” Dora said.
    Like us, he trained for a year and learned to identify land mines and other explosives
    and to alert our human handlers, so the mines can be safely removed.
    In four years he helped to clear nearly fourteen hectares of land, about
    the area of twenty soccer fields. He found thirty-nine land mines and twenty-eight other

    Like us, Magawa was small enough and light enough – 1.2 kilograms – he was so
    small and light that he would not have triggered a mine if he had walked over one by
    Magawa was capable of searching a field the size of a tennis court in twenty minutes,
    something which would take a person with a metal detector between one and four days.

    In a virtual ceremony online, the British charity PDSA [People’s Dispensary for Sick

    HeroRAT Magawa is awarded the PDSA Gold Medal

    In a virtual ceremony online, the British charity PDSA [People’s Dispensary for Sick
    Animals] gave Magawa its gold medal for his lifesaving work.

    [picture of Magawa wearing his medal]

    It was the very first time in the seventy-seven year history of the PDSA that a medal was
    presented to a rat and we were all very proud of Magawa,” said Zephania.
    “Is Magawa still here?” asked Da. “We would like to meet him.”
    “I’m sorry but you can’t meet Magawa . Magawa died at the age of eight,”
    Dora said.

    “In his last week on earth with us, he slowed down, napped more often and ate less. He
    left this life while he was sleeping peacefully.”
    “That’s very sad,” Da said.
    “No, not sad at all. We miss him, of course, but the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth
    means that we all come back in one form or another. Maybe we will be reborn as
    beautiful birds like you, maybe as butterflies or monkeys. “
    [pictures of black baza birds, butterflies and monkeys]

    Or maybe as good and
    useful human people, like the people we work with”

    [picture of an APOPO deminer with a Hero Rat]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: