Mine-detecting rat dies after retirement

A much-feted, mine-detecting rat in Cambodia, who received a prestigious award for his life-saving duty, has died in retirement, the charity he had worked for has announced.

Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, died last weekend, according to an annoucement on the website of Apopo, a Belgium-headquartered non-profit group.

The non-profit trains rats and dogs to sniff out land mines and detect tuberculosis.

Magawa was born in November 2013 in Tanzania, where Apopo maintains its operational headquarters and training and breeding center. He was sent to Cambodia in 2016.

The death of the rat was announced a day after three mine removal experts working for another group were killed by an accidental explosion of an anti-tank mine in Cambodia’s northern province of Preah Vihear.

Almost three decades of Civil War that ended in 1998 left Cambodia littered with land mines and other unexploded ordnance that continues to kill and maim.

Apopo’s office in Cambodia posted condolences for the three dead and one wounded of the Cambodia self help demining group.

According to Apopo, Magawa detected more than 100 land mines and other explosives during his five-year career before retiring in 2021.

African giant pouched rats are believed to be especially well-suited for land mine clearance because their small size lets them walk across mine fields without triggering the explosives.

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