African Hero Rat Awarded Gold Medal for Gallantry Dies

An African giant pouched rat, Magawa, who was the first vermin to be awarded a gold medal for gallantry, has died.

Magawa, who was celebrated for helping to discover over 100 landmines and other explosives in Cambodia, died aged eight — about two years after retiring from sniffing out the chemicals in unexploded devices.

In 2020, for his record at uncovering explosives and his long years of service, a charity group, The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), awarded Magawa a gold medal for gallantry.

The PDSA Gold Medal is sometimes described as the George Cross for animals.

The African giant pouched rat has a strong sense of smell and can be trained quickly, skills which make it excellent at searching for mines.

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During its five-year career, the rodent sniffed out 71 landmines and dozens of other unexploded items in Cambodia.

The country in South East Asia is thought to have six million landmines.

Magawa was trained by the Belgian charity Apopo, which is based in Tanzania and raises HeroRATs to detect landmines. These animals are trained for a year before they are certified.

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