Magawa, the famous mine-clearing rat, dies aged eight

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Magawa, the famous mine-clearing rat who was awarded a gold medal for his heroism, has died at the age of eight. In a five-year career, the rodent sniffed out over 100 landmines and other explosives in Cambodia.

Magawa was the most successful rat trained by the Belgian charity Apopo to alert human handlers about the mines so they can be safely removed.

The charity said the African giant pouch rat “passed away peacefully” at the weekend.

It said Magawa was in good health and “spent most of last week playing with his usual enthusiasm”

Bred in Tanzania, Magawa underwent a year of training before moving to Cambodia to begin his bomb-sniffing career. There are thought to be up to six million landmines in the South East Asian country.

Trained to detect a chemical compound within the explosives, Magawa cleared more than 1,517,711 square feet of land – the equivalent of 20 football pitches.

Magawa was capable of searching a field the size of a tennis court in just 20 minutes – something Apopo said would take a person with a metal detector between one and four days.

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