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posted by martyb on Saturday June 05, @08:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Non-blockchain-de-mining dept.

From NPR, National Public Radio:

A heroic rat named Magawa has been working for five years in Cambodia, sniffing out dozens of land mines. He is believed to have saved lives.

Now, the animal is about to embark on a well-deserved retirement.

"Although still in good health, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down," the nonprofit APOPO[*] said Thursday. "It is time."

Magawa is a Tanzanian-born African giant pouched rat who was trained by APOPO to sniff out explosives. With careful training, he and his rat colleagues learn to identify land mines and alert their human handlers, so the mines can be safely removed.

Even among his skilled cohorts working in Cambodia, Magawa is a standout sniffer: In four years he has helped to clear more than 2.4 million square feet of land. In the process, he has found 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance.

Last year, Magawa received one of Britain's highest animal honors.

In a virtual ceremony, the U.K. charity PDSA gave Magawa its gold medal for his lifesaving work.

"This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat," PDSA Chair John Smith said during the proceedings.

The group started giving out medals during World War II to recognize animals for gallantry in the face of conflict. Previous honorees have included dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat.

[...] "We really trust our rats, because very often after clearing a minefield, our teams will play a game of soccer on the cleared field to assure the quality of our work," he said.

Cox said the rats have freed more than 1 million people from the terror of living with land mines.

[*] APOPO is an acronym from Dutch which stands for "Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling", or in English, Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @09:45AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @09:45AM (#1142003)

    Does he get a gold watch? Maybe a beachfront home on Honolulu? His own harem? Maybe a harem in Harlem and a lifetime pass to watch the Globetrotters? Does he keep any momentos from the minefields? How about healthcare? Was he a member of a union? Or, is he just another exploited member of a forgotten minority?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @01:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @01:10PM (#1142030)

      He gets to gnaw on phone lines all day long and no one will chase him off.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Saturday June 05, @02:32PM

      by looorg (578) on Saturday June 05, @02:32PM (#1142041)

      Cheese and death.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @02:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @02:40PM (#1142046)

      It's Cambodia... he's the main guest and principal course at this retirement dinner.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @03:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @03:27PM (#1142057)

      You interested in taking over his job?

    • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Saturday June 05, @04:31PM (1 child)

      by theluggage (1797) on Saturday June 05, @04:31PM (#1142070)

      How long does an African giant pouched rat live?* Because for a regular rat, 5 years is telegram-from-the-queen territory even for a rat that doesn't sniff out landmines for a living...

      (* insert ob. "ROUS? I don't think they exist!" meme here )

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @08:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @08:22PM (#1142142)

      His pension plan? He gets to be the pork in someone's noodle soup.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, @07:55AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, @07:55AM (#1142293)

      From the Original Submission (always a good place to check, in case of editorial malfeasence.)

      Magawa's medal is perfectly rat-sized and fits onto his work harness.

      I would guess rats, other than humans in the rat-race, do not require timepieces, especially when retired.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday June 07, @07:27PM

      by hendrikboom (1125) on Monday June 07, @07:27PM (#1142859) Homepage Journal

      If he wants a harem, it will likely be a harem of female rats.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @12:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @12:53PM (#1142028)

    Hero rats [youtube.com]

  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @03:52PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @03:52PM (#1142063)

    i wonder if he (she?) could also rat out... errr... sniff out the landmine factory?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @05:41PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @05:41PM (#1142089)

      He'll have to come to the US I think - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_land_mines#United_States [wikipedia.org]

      Scroll up and down the page for other candidate nations.

      FFS, the US and the UK actually developed NUCLEAR mines.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @05:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @05:53PM (#1142092)

        A low yield nuclear mine detonating at the right time would be perfect for removing a lot of soldiers. Better than a Davy Crockett.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @05:59PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, @05:59PM (#1142093)

      Nope... he couldn't get a visa to travel to USA

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