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Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing “hero rat” to retire in June

PHNOM PENH: The landmine-sniffing “hero rat” Magawa is retiring in June after five years of service in Cambodia, according to the NGO that trained him.

Last year the African Giant Pouched Rat was awarded a gold medal by the PDSA, a UK-based veterinary charity for his “lifesaving bravery and devotion to duty.”

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During his career he has discovered 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, according to Apopo, the charity which trains rats and dogs to detect landmines as well as tuberculosis.

Magawa, a HeroRat was raised to detect landmines in Tanzania where the NGO’s headquarters are located and is the group’s most successful HeroRat.

“Magawa’s performance has been unrivalled and I’ve enjoyed working alongside him. He is small but he has saved many lives by allowing us to returns much-needed safe land back to our people as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, Magawa’s Cambodian handler So Malen said. “However, he is slowing down and we must respect his wishes. I’ll miss working with him.”

According to the PDSA, Cambodia has one of the highest rates of mine amputees per capita in the world at over 40,000.

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