An African giant pouched rat named Magawa has become the thirtieth animal to receive a special PDSA Gold Medal, which is considered the equivalent of the George Cross, the UK’s highest civilian award, for finding unexploded landmines in Cambodia.
HeroRAT Magawa (this is the official title of his position) is the first rodent in the 77-year history of the organization to receive this award.
Prior to this, several brave dogs, horses, pigs and one cat have received the PSDA gold medal.
The animal was trained by the APOPO charity, which has been training rats since the 1990s to detect chemicals in explosives.
When the animals find a mine, they scratch the surface of the earth, giving a sign to the sappers, and in return receive a tasty treat.
At the same time, rats are light enough not to provoke an explosion with their weight.
Of all the wards of the fund, it was Magawa who achieved the best results in his work.
To date, the rat has found 39 mines and 28 unexploded ordnance.
The rodent “cleared” more than 141000 square meters of territory, which potentially saved the lives of dozens, if not hundreds of local residents!
In just 20 minutes, Magawa is able to check for mines in a field the size of a tennis court.
For a person with a metal detector, such work will take from 1 to 4 days.
The HeroRAT miniature gold medal was designed and manufactured by Cleave and Co., who also designed the engagement ring for the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
The diameter of the jewelry is only 18.25 millimeters, and the weight is 3.9 grams.
“The work of HeroRAT Magawa and the APOPO Charitable Foundation is truly unique and important. According to our data, about 4-5 million landmines were laid in Cambodia between 1975 and 1988, which caused 64,000 accidents, says Ian McLaughlin, head of the PDSA.
“Magawa saves and changes the lives of men, women and children who may be affected by these mines. Each discover he makes reduces the risk of death or injury for the local population.”