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Heroic Rat Retires

Magawa is an explosive-sniffing rodent that’s responsible for saving countless lives.

Magawa is a Gambian pouched rat, a native of sub-Saharan Africa and can grow up to three feet long from nose to tail. Perhaps surprisingly, they are quite agreeable in nature and are often kept as pets.

Gambian rats have an incredible sense of smell, and Magawa was trained to harness this natural ability by trainers in Belgium, who taught him how to sniff out military-grade explosives.

During his short but notable career from 2016 to 2021, Magawa worked as a living sensor, leading his handlers to more than 100 un-exploded weapons that were buried in the Cambodian countryside - which would otherwise have put civilians who happen to be passing through these fields at risk of serious injury or even death.

Magawa was able to help clear 225,000 sq.m. of land, amounting to 71 landmines and 38 other unexploded devices. In September last year, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals bestowed Magawa a gold medal for his services.

Happily, as Magawa retires, a new generation of rats is in place to take over this valiant work.


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