A giant African rat in a pocket was honored for its landmine detection work in Southeast Asia with a gold medal from an international veterinary association.
UK charity PDSA named Magawa this year’s gold medal recipient for “his dedication to life-saving duty in locating and clearing deadly landmines in Cambodia”.
The 7-year-old rodent is much larger than the average pet rat – but still light enough to walk over a mine without setting it off.
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The Belgian nonprofit APOPO in Tanzania trained Magawa to detect landmines in exchange for goodies.
“It is quite safe for HeroRATs like Magawa to detect landmines and they are very intelligent animals, so easy to train. Magawa started training at a young age after being raised by APOPO for this purpose, ”said PDSA.
To date, Magawa has discovered 39 landmines and 28 unexploded ordnance, making him the most successful hero in APOP.
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There are as many as six million landmines in Cambodia, according to the BBC, which also reported that the inscription of the medal reads “For animal gallantry or devotion to duty”.
Prior to Magawa, the previous 30 award recipients were dogs.
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“Receiving this medal is truly an honor for us,” Apopo chief executive Christophe Cox told a news agency, the BBC reported. “But it is also important for the Cambodian people and for all the people in the world who suffer from landmines. “