Home US ‘Hero rat’ retires after five years spent sniffing out landmines

‘Hero rat’ retires after five years spent sniffing out landmines

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‘Hero rat’ retires after five years spent sniffing out landmines

The African big pouched rat has discovered 71 landmines and 38 objects of unexploded ordnance throughout his service, in keeping with APOPO, the mine-clearing non-governmental group that skilled him.

His work noticed him win a gold medal from the British veterinary charity the Individuals’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) final yr.

However APOPO mentioned the revered rodent, who turns seven later this yr, has “labored arduous and deserves to loosen up now.”

“Though nonetheless in good well being, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly beginning to decelerate,” APOPO mentioned. “It’s time.”

His work has helped the group clear greater than 225,000 sq. meters of land in Cambodia, the place many years of battle have left the panorama strewn with harmful unexploded gadgets.

Magawa is bigger than the common pet rat, however nonetheless mild sufficient to by no means set off a landmine by strolling over it, the best way human de-miners would possibly. That benefit led APOPO to coach him and different rats to detect the scent of the explosive chemical substances utilized in landmines and level them out to their handlers.

The group praised Magawa for “permitting native communities to stay, work, play and be educated; with out worry of shedding life or limb.”

African big pouched rats are clever and straightforward to coach; Magawa started coaching from a younger age, and “handed all his assessments with flying colours” earlier than being deployed to Cambodia, the PDSA mentioned when awarding him their medal.

He has been skilled to disregard scrap steel mendacity about, and indicators to his handler when he detects a landmine’s actual location. He is so quick at discovering landmines that he can clear an space the dimensions of a tennis court docket in half-hour — one thing that may take a human 4 days utilizing a steel detector, the PDSA mentioned.

A number of nations dropped unexploded ordnance throughout Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos through the Vietnam Battle.

Then, after the autumn of the Khmer Rouge, the following civil conflict and Vietnamese invasion noticed extra landmines laid throughout the Southeast Asian nation.

APOPO mentioned it cleared 4.3 million sq. meters of land final yr in Cambodia alone, which “wouldn’t have been potential with out the assistance of little heroes like Magawa.” The group operates in 59 nations.

CNN’s Jessie Yeung contributed reporting.

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