Hero rat awarded gold medal for sniffing out landmine retires

A hero rat has retired from his five-year career of sniffing out landmines in Cambodia.

Magawa, a African giant pouched rat has found 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance during his service, CNN reports.

His distinguished work also helped clear more than 225,000 square meters of land in Cambodia, where decades of conflict have left the landscape strewn with dangerous unexploded devices.

The rat was rewarded with a gold medal from the British veterinary charity the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) last year.

But as the rodent is now approaching seven years old, his trainers at APOPO – an organisation which trains rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis – said he has "worked hard and deserves to relax now."

APOPO added: "Although still in good health, he has reached retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down. It's his time."

Magawa is larger than the average pet rat, but still light enough to never set off a landmine by walking over it, which could have devastating consequences for humans doing the same thing.

APOPO trains rats to detect the scent of the explosive chemicals used in landmines and point them out to their handlers.

African giant pouched rats are said to be intelligent and easy to train.

  • Manhunt for Burberry-clad thug who launched 'violent and targeted' attempted murder

The group praised Magawa for "allowing local communities to live, work, play and be educated, without fear of losing life or limb."

He has been trained from a young age to ignore scrap metal lying about and signals to his handler when he detects a landmine's exact location.

He is reportedly so fast at finding landmines that he can clear an area the size of a tennis court in 30 minutes.

Multiple countries dropped unexploded ordnance across Cambodia and neighbouring Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War.

Then, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, the ensuing civil war and Vietnamese invasion saw more landmines laid across the Southeast Asian nation.

Cambodia has around 40,000 amputees, one of the highest rates in the world.

APOPO said it cleared 4.3 million square meters of land last year in Cambodia alone, which "would not have been possible without the help of little heroes like Magawa."

Source: Read Full Article