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‘Hero Hero’ Makawa retires after five years sniffing Cambodian landmines

The African rat found 71 landmines and 38 unexploded ordnance during his service, according to APOPO, the NGO that clears the mines that train him.

His work earned him a gold medal from British veterinary charity The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) last year.

But APOPO said the venerable rat, who turns seven later this year. “Work hard and deserve to rest now.”

“Even though he is still strong But he was already in retirement. And it’s starting to slow down noticeably,” APOPO said. “It’s time.”

His work helped the organization clear over 225,000 square meters in Cambodia. where decades of conflict have left the landscape with unexploded dangerous equipment.

Magawa and his award-winning nose at work in Cambodia

Magawa is larger than a common pet rat. But it’s still light enough not to drop a mine by walking past it. as a human miner might do. That advantage allowed APOPO to train him and the other mice. Detect the smell of explosive chemicals used in landmines and notify supervisors.

The group praised Magawa for “Allowing local communities to live, work, play and be educated without fear of losing life or limbs.”

African giant rats are smart and easy to train. Magawa began training at an early age and “passed all the tests with flying colors” before being sent to Cambodia, the PDSA said when handing him the medal.

He was trained to ignore the scraps lying around. and signaled to his caretaker when the exact location of the mine was detected. He was able to locate mines so quickly that he was able to clear an area the size of a tennis court in 30 minutes, something that would take four days for humans using a metal detector, PDSA said.

Several countries dropped unexploded ordnance across Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War.

Then, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge The ensuing civil war and the invasion of Vietnam saw a rise in landmines across the Southeast Asian nation.

APOPO said it cleared 4.3 million square meters in Cambodia alone last year, which “would not have been possible without the help of the little hero Magawa.” The organization operates in 59 countries.

CNN’s Jessie Yeung contributed to the report.

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