Magawa, an African giant rat, has been awarded a small gold medal for his “courage and devotion to saving lives” in finding landmines in Cambodia.
The PDSA, a UK veterinary charity, has awarded its gold medal to 30 creatures for “animal gallantry or devotion to duty.” After detecting 39 landmines and 28 unexploded ordnance throughout her career, Magawa is the first rat to receive the award in its 77-year history.
Having been trained by APOPO, a non-profit organization, she is the charity’s most celebrated and successful rat, having cleared 141,000 square meters of land, the equivalent of 20 soccer fields.
“Receiving this medal is truly an honor for us. I have been working with APOPO for more than 20 years, ”said Christophe Cox, APOPO’s CEO, according to Unilad.
“It is a special honor for our animal trainers who wake up very early every day to train those animals. But it is also important for the people of Cambodia and for all the people around the world who suffer from landmines. The PDSA gold medal award serves to make the problem of antipersonnel mines visible worldwide ”.
Seven-year-old Magawa, now nearing retirement age, is able to explore a field the size of a tennis court in just 20 minutes, a feat that would take a mere human between one and four days. While it weighs 1.2kg and is much larger than standard rats, it is still light enough not to set off landmines.