Mine-sniffing rat Magawa ends years of hard work in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — After five years of sniffing out land mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, Magawa is retiring. The African giant pouched rat has been the most successful rodent trained and overseen by a Belgian nonprofit, APOPO, to find land mines and alert its human handlers so the explosives can be safely removed. Magawa has cleared more than 1.5 million square feet of land, the equivalent of some 20 soccer fields, sniffing out 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, according to APOPO. And for the first time, it won a British charity’s top civilian award for animal bravery last year, an honor so far exclusively reserved for dogs. More than 60 million people in 59 countries continue to be threatened by land mines and unexploded ordnance.