It’s time to enjoy a well-deserved rest for Magawa, the giant African rat who for five years, with his sense of smell, has found mines and unexploded ordnance in the underground of Cambodia. “Although still in good health, he has reached retirement age and is evidently starting to slow down,” explained Apopo, the Belgian non-profit association that trained the rodent, “the time has come.”
Magawa was born in Tanzania in 2014 and African giant rats have an average lifespan of 8 years. During his career, Magawa cleared 141,000 square meters of land, the equivalent of 20 football fields, and his nose allowed him to find and defuse 71 mines and 38 unexploded bombs.
On 25 September, the rat was awarded the Pdsa Medal of Honor for Animal Valor, a prestigious award from a British charity with which only dogs had so far been decorated. Many rodents can be trained to identify odors and work on repetitive tasks by being rewarded with food.
The Apopo, which also works in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, considered rats the most suitable for the purpose by virtue of the speed and small size, which allow them to pass over mines without detonating them.
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