Magawa the African rat wins PDSA gold medal for detecting mines.


The seven-year – old rodent has helped landmine charity to root out deadly explosive devices in Cambodia. This Hero RAT has been awarded a prestigious gold medal for his work detecting land mines.

Hero RAT’ is actually Magawa’s job title and it’s a pretty accurate description his work is dangerous and involves searching and finding landmines.

Magawa has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions in Cambodia during his career. Trained by the Belgium-registered charity Apopo, so-called ‘Hero Rats have been taught to detect landmines and tuberculosis since the 1990s.

The UK veterinary charity PDSA has presented him with its Gold Medal for “life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia”. “To receive this medal is really an honor for us,” Apopo chief executive Christophe Cox told the Press Association news agency. “But also it is big for the people in Cambodia, and all the people around the world who are suffering from landmines.”

Magawa’s handler, Malen, met him on the day he arrived in Cambodia. She says she always knew he was a special rat. Magawa is an African giant pouched rat, he was born in Tanzania and is 7 years old. He weighs about as much as a bag of sugar and head to tail is 70cm (28in) long. We’ve been working together for more than four years now, and I’m so proud of him. He’s very special to me,” she said.

When searching for dangerous objects, Magawa knows to ignore scrap metal and is extremely quick at finding mines. He can search for an area the size of a tennis court in half an hour – something that would take a human with a metal detector up to four days! 

Cambodia has seen decades of fighting, leaving the ground littered with hidden explosives; there are thought to be six million landmines in the country.

Magawa’s amazing efforts are being recognized for improving the lives of people living in the country and it’s that life-saving bravery.


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