A rat awarded a tiny gold medal for his bravery

Magawa, a giant African baggy rat, has been awarded a tiny gold medal for saving lives by searching for landmines in Cambodia.

The PDSA, a British veterinary charity, awarded him its gold medal for dedication to duty because he had sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded ordnance in his career.

Magawa is the first rat to receive the 77-year-old award.

He was trained for this task by the non-profit organization APOPO, and the fact that he cleared 141 thousand square meters of land, which is the equivalent of 20 football fields, proves that he is the most successful.

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“Getting this medal is really an honor. I’ve been working with APOPO for over 20 years. This is a great thing for our animal trainers who get up early every day and work with them, but also for people in Cambodia who are threatened by landmines,” the executive said. APOPO Director Christophe Cox.

Magawa is seven years old and approaching retirement age, and a tennis court-sized court searches in just 20 minutes. By comparison, a man would need a day to two. Although it weighs only 1.2 kilograms and is far larger than a normal rat, the Magawa is still light enough not to activate a mine.
Rats are intelligent and more skilled at repetitive tasks than other animals. They are taught to detect a chemical compound in explosives and need a year of training before they get certified. They only work half an hour every day, and early in the morning.

“Every Magawa discovery reduces the risk of injury or death to the local population,” adds PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin.

According to McLoughlin, between four and six million landmines were planted in Cambodia between 1975 and 1998. As a result, the country reportedly recorded more than 64,000 casualties and 25,000 amputations.