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Landmine-hunting hero rat dies in Cambodia after stellar career | Cambodia

A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died.

Magawa, an enormous African pouched rat initially from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000 sq. metres of land – the equal of 42 soccer pitches – over the course of his career.

After detecting greater than 100 landmines and different explosives, Magawa retired in June final yr.

Magawa handed away “peacefully” this weekend on the age of eight, stated the Belgian charity Apopo, which skilled him.

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“All of us at Apopo are feeling the lack of Magawa and we’re grateful for the unimaginable work he’s carried out,” the group stated.

Apopo stated Magawa was in good well being and spent most of final week taking part in along with his normal enthusiasm.

However in the direction of the weekend “he began to decelerate, napping extra and exhibiting much less curiosity in meals in his final days”, the charity stated.

Apopo skilled Magawa to detect the chemical compounds in explosives by rewarding him with tasty treats – his favourites being bananas and peanuts.

He would alert deminers by scratching the earth after utilizing “his superb sense of odor”.

Magawa was in a position to cowl an space the dimensions of a tennis court docket in half-hour, one thing that will take 4 days utilizing a traditional metallic detector.

In September 2020, the rodent received the animal equal of Britain’s highest civilian honour for bravery due to his uncanny knack for uncovering landmines and unexploded ordnance.

An African giant pouched rat sniffing for traces of landmine explosives at Apopo’s training facility in Morogoro, Tanzania.
An African big pouched rat sniffing for traces of landmine explosives at Apopo’s coaching facility in Morogoro, Tanzania. {Photograph}: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Photos

Magawa was the primary rat to obtain a medal from British veterinary charity PDSA in the 77 years of the awards, becoming a member of an illustrious band of courageous canines, felines – and even a pigeon.

Tens of millions of landmines have been laid in Cambodia through the nation’s practically three-decade civil battle which ended in 1998, inflicting tens of hundreds of casualties.

Three Cambodian deminers have been killed on Monday by anti-tank landmines that exploded as they tried to take away them, simply 20 minutes after a person burning vegetation on his farm was killed by war-era ordnance in the identical village.

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