Gold Medal Sapper Rat Magawa Dies in Cambodia

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Gold Medal Sapper Rat Magawa Dies in Cambodia
Gold Medal Sapper Rat Magawa Dies in Cambodia
12 January, 18:55In the worldPhoto: PA
Before retiring last year, Magawa found more than 100 unexploded ordnance and won the gold medal for heroism.

The death of their pupil was reported by employees of the Belgian charitable organization Apopo, writes France Presse. Apopo trains animals to sniff out mines and tuberculosis. A male Gambian hamster rat named Magawa was their most famous student: in five years he cleared an area of 225,000 square meters of mines in Cambodia - the equivalent of 42 football fields.

During his training, Magawa was trained to detect chemical compounds in explosives, rewarding his success with his favorite treats, bananas and peanuts. The rat had a surprisingly delicate sense of smell: Magawa could survey a piece of land the size of a tennis court in half an hour - for an ordinary sapper with a metal detector it takes four days. After each detected object, the animal warned the sappers by scratching the ground with its paw.

During his career, Moghava found 71 mines and dozens of unexploded ordnance. He became the first rat to receive a medal from the British veterinary charity PDSA: in 77 years of existence, only dogs, cats and one pigeon were awarded.

Cambodia's three-decade civil war ended in 1998, but millions of mines left in the ground since then continue to kill people. So, on Monday, a farmer was killed by an explosion of ammunition, and then three sappers who were trying to defuse anti-tank mines.

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