Landmine-sniffing ‘hero rat’ dies — Analysis

The rodent’s bravery allowed it to detect greater than 100 explosives and clear 225,000 sq. meters of land in Cambodia

An African big pouched rat, named Magawa, who discovered 78 landmines and 38 unexploded ordinances in Cambodia and was awarded a medal for his service, has handed away on the age of eight.

The information was shared earlier this week by APOPO, a mine-clearing NGO, which trains rats to detect mines.

“Magawa was in good well being and spent most of final week enjoying along with his ordinary 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,” it stated, including that the creature had “handed away peacefully.”

The “hero rat” has finished “unimaginable work” over time, which helped “communities in Cambodia to dwell, work, and play with out concern of dropping life or limb,” APOPO identified.

In 2020, this work landed Magawa a gold medal from the British veterinary charity the Folks’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. It’s the best award for gallantry an animal can obtain.

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The legendary rat was born at Sokoine College of Agriculture in Tanzania in 2013, the place APOPO has a coaching middle. Whereas there, Magawa was taught to detect landmines by the scent of chemical substances current in them.

On the age of three, the rodent was despatched to Cambodia, which stays dotted with landmines after years of inside and exterior conflicts between 1975 and 1988. The explosives planted within the floor have left tens of hundreds injured and drastically restricted the scale of usable land.

Magawa’s handlers have all the time praised his extraordinary stamina, which noticed him masking bigger areas than his fellow mine-sniffing rats every single day.

Throughout his profession, he discovered greater than 100 explosives, which allowed 225,000 sq. meters of land to be declared mine-free. Having been the star of many a information report over time, he retired from lively service final June.

African big pouched rats have established themselves as excellent landmine detectors as a result of they compensate for his or her poor imaginative and prescient with their nice sense of odor and reminiscence. Not solely are they cheaper to coach than service canine, however, weighing between 1.0 and 1.4kg, they’re additionally gentle sufficient to not set off mines after they step on them.

They’ll search an space the scale of a tennis courtroom in simply half-hour, whereas a human with a steel detector often requires just a few days to do the identical job.

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