Heroic Rat Who Sniffed Out 71 Lethal Landmines Retires

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — After 5 years of sniffing out land mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, Magawa is retiring.

The African big pouched rat has been essentially the most profitable rodent skilled and overseen by a Belgian nonprofit, APOPO, to search out land mines and alert its human handlers so the explosives may be safely eliminated.

Magawa has cleared greater than 141,000 sq. meters (1.5 million sq. ft) of land, the equal of some 20 soccer fields, sniffing out 71 land mines and 38 gadgets of unexploded ordnance, in keeping with APOPO.

And for the primary time, it received a British charity’s high civilian award for animal bravery final 12 months, an honor to date completely reserved for canine.

“Though nonetheless in good well being, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly beginning to decelerate,” APOPO stated. “It’s time.”

Whereas many rodents may be skilled to detect scents and can work at repetitive duties for meals rewards, APOPO determined that African big pouched rats have been finest suited to land mine clearance as a result of their measurement permits them to stroll throughout minefields with out triggering the explosives – and do it way more rapidly than folks. Additionally they reside as much as eight years.

Magawa is a part of a cohort of rats bred for this function. He was born in Tanzania in 2014, and in 2016, moved to Cambodia’s northwestern metropolis of Siem Reap, dwelling of the famed Angkor temples, to start his bomb-sniffing profession.

APOPO additionally works with packages in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to clear hundreds of thousands of mines left behind from wars and conflicts.

Greater than 60 million folks in 59 nations proceed to be threatened by land mines and unexploded ordinance. In 2018, landmines and different remnants of conflict killed or injured 6,897 folks, the group says.

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