PHNOM PENH, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Mine-sniffing hero rat Magawa, who won a gold medal for his mine-detection work in Cambodia, has died at the age of eight, charity Apopo said in a news release on Tuesday.
"Hero rat Magawa passed away peacefully this weekend," the news release said. "Magawa was in good health and spent most of last week playing with his usual enthusiasm, but towards the weekend he started to slow down, napping more and showing less interest in food in his last days."
During his five-year career, Magawa found over 100 landmines and other explosives, making him Apopo's most successful hero rat to date, it said.
Apopo is a non-profit organization that trains African giant pouched rats to save lives by detecting landmines and tuberculosis.
"His contribution allows communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play, without fear of losing life or limb," it added.
In September 2020, Magawa was presented with a gold medal from British veterinary charity People's Dispensary for Sick Animals for his work detecting landmines in Cambodia before he retired in June last year.
Magawa was born and trained in Tanzania by Apopo to detect the scent of the explosive chemicals used in landmines and point them out to his handlers.
Regional and internal conflicts had left Cambodia as one of the most mine and explosive remnants of war-affected countries in the world. An estimated 4 to 6 million landmines and other munitions were left over from the almost three decades of conflicts.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) explosions killed 11 people and injured 33 others in Cambodia last year, a government report said, adding that from 1979 to 2021, landmines and UXO explosions had claimed a total of 19,808 lives and either injured or amputated 45,156 others.