After Years Of Detecting Land Mines, A Heroic Rat Is Hanging Up His Sniffer ~ NPR

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A heroic rat named Magawa has been working for five years in Cambodia, sniffing out dozens of land mines. He is believed to have saved lives.

Now, the animal is about to embark on a well-deserved retirement. 

“Although still in good health, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down,” the nonprofit APOPO said Thursday. “It is time.” 

Magawa is a Tanzanian-born African giant pouched rat who was trained by APOPO to sniff out explosives. With careful training, he and his rat colleagues learn to identify land mines and alert their human handlers, so the mines can be safely removed.

Even among his skilled cohorts working in Cambodia, Magawa is a standout sniffer: In four years he has helped to clear more than 2.4 million square feet of land. In the process, he has found 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance.

Last year, Magawa received one of Britain’s highest animal honors.

In a virtual ceremony, the U.K. charity PDSA gave Magawa its gold medal for his lifesaving work.

“This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat,” PDSA Chair John Smith said during the proceedings.

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