Magawa, a rat that was awarded a gold medal for his job detecting mines in Cambodia, is retiring after a five year career.
During this time, the African giant pouched rat has sniffed out 71 mines and 38 explosive items over more than 225,000 square metres of land, making him the most successful rodent trained by the APOPO, a Belgian non-profit that trains animals to save lives by detecting mines.
Last September, he was awarded a gold medal by UK charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals to recognize his bravery and heroism.
APOPO announced on Thursday June 3 that Magawa was retiring.
“He is small but he has helped save many lives allowing us to returns much-needed safe land back to our people as quickly and cost-effectively as possible,” Magawa’s handler said.
“But he is slowing down, and we need to respect his needs. I will miss working with him!” Magawa will stay on for a few more weeks to mentor a group of 20 newly trained landmine detection rats who “passed with flying colors” before retiring, APOPO said in a press release.
There are an estimated up to 10 million mines in Cambodia as a result of three decades of war, and the country has one of the highest casualty and amputee rates in the world, according to reports.