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African 'Hero' Rat Gets a Gold Medal for Bravery for Sniffing Out Landmines in Cambodia

Magawa the hero rat from Africa | Image credit: Twitter

Magawa the hero rat from Africa | Image credit: Twitter

Magawa, a pouched rat, who has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded items of ordnance, has been awarded with a Gold Medal award by UK based veterinary charity PDSA, for his stellar contribution.

A giant rat in Africa has been awarded a gallantry award for his service in sniffing out scores of landmines and unexploded explosives in his illustrious career in Cambodia.

Magawa, a pouched rat, who has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded items of ordnance, has been awarded with a Gold Medal award by UK based veterinary charity PDSA, for his stellar contribution.

Magawa was trained by the charity APOPO and was among their top-performing "hero rats", Press Association reported. As per the charity, the rat had cleared territory equivalent to 20 football fields (141,000 square metres) Despite being large at portly for a rat (Magawa weighs 1. 2 kg), the rat is skilled and light enough to not set off any explosives with its weight. The highly-skilled rat can sniff out and clear an entire tennis court in just 30 minutes - a task that would take humans with bomb detectors nearly four days to complete and at much greater risk.

This is the first time in the PDSA's 77-year-long history that a rodent has won such an award.

The victory brings a fresh spotlight on the issues faced by the residents of Cambodia and other places that are plagued by landmines.

About APOPO

APOPO is a Belgium-registred charity that is based in Tanzania. The organisation has been raising rats and rodents like the 7-year-old Magawe since the 1990s. It takes a year for threats, called HeroRATS, to become fully certified and ready to join the bomb-sniffing squads.

Landmines in Cambodia

Landmines and explosive remnants of war have taken a severe toll on Cambodians. The Cambodian Mine Victim Information Service has recorded 19,684 people killed since 1979.

Cambodia is still littered with landmines after emerging from decades of war, including the 1970s Khmer Rouge “Killing Fields” genocide, leaving it with one of the world’s highest disability rates.

APOPO has used the rodents for mine-clearing projects in several countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

One of the biggest advantages of using rats is that landmines pose no danger to them because the rats are not heavy enough to trigger an explosion.

(With inputs from Reuters)


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