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Heroic Mine-Sniffing Rat Magawa Passes Away

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Heroic Mine-Sniffing Rat Magawa Passes Away

Magawa, the heroic rat who won medals for his mine-sniffing abilities, has passed away.

The rodent was eight years old and had sniffing out landmines and other explosives for five years.

He even won the PDSA medal for gallantry, sometimes considered the George Cross for animals.

He was the first rat to win the award in its 77-year history.

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REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Magawa sniffed out more than 100 explosives across his career in Cambodia, making him the most successful rat to ever be trained by the Belgian charity Apopo.

Magawa's job was to sniff out mines and alert his human handlers so they could safely be removed.

Apopo released a statement saying Magawa 'passed away peacefully' over the weekend.

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They said that while he was in good health and 'spent most of the last week playing with his usual enthusiasm', he was beginning to slow down, napping more, and had lost interest in food towards the end.

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Oh Magawa, you heroic little rodent. Go gentle you little sniffy character.

Magawa was bred in Tanzania, where Apopo has its headquarters at Sokoine University of Agriculture, and he spent a year of training before he began his career in Cambodia.

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His work was incredibly important because there are thought to be up to six million landmines in Cambodia.

Magawa cleared more than 141,000 square metres of land, or the equivalen of 20 football pitches.

At just 1.2kgs, Magawa was able to run across the land without triggering the mines and could sniff out a chemical compound in the mines.

He could clear an area the size of a tennis court in just 20 minutes, something a human with a metal detector could take up to four days to do.

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He was praised for his 'life-saving devotion to duty' and only retired in June after 'slowing down' in his old age.

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Magawa celebrated his eighth birthday in November.

"All of us at APOPO are feeling the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he's done," said the charity.

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"It is thanks to all of you that Magawa will leave a lasting legacy in the lives that he saved as a landmine detection rat in Cambodia.

"Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for your support during this difficult time."

Featured Image Credit: Apopo

Topics: News, Animals

Hannah Blackiston
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