Magawa is an African giant pouched rat who has been trained to detect landmines in Cambodia. To date, Magawa has discovered 39 landmines and 28 unexploded artillery shells. He has helped to clear over 141,000 square meters (over 1.5 million square feet) of land for local people. Magawa is living proof that even the tiniest animal can alter the course of the future.
For this outstanding performance, he has been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for his bravery and dedication to duty. Awarded by the UK’s leading veterinary charity, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.
Hero RAT Magawa (his official job title) is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honoring animals to receive a PDSA Medal. He joins the ranks of spirited dogs, courageous horses, heroic pigeons, and a fearless cat.
Magawa’s miniature medal was designed and struck by court jewelers and medallists Cleave & Co, who also created the Duchess of Sussex’s, Meghan Markle’s, engagement ring. “They make all the PDSA Medals,” The Gold Medal was made using traditional methods. “It is 18.25mm in diameter and weighs 3.9g (the full-size Medal is 38.5mm and 29.2g). Both medals equate to standard British campaign medals.” The team added.
PDSA Awards and Heritage Manager Amy Dickin told us that everyone at PDSA and APOPO is “incredibly excited” for Magawa the rat to receive the PDSA Gold Medal.
CEO of charity APOPO, Christophe Cox, at a press conference told that “HeroRATs have amazing senses of smell and excellent memories.”
He further added “We use clicker training to teach rats like Magawa to scratch at the earth above a landmine. During the training they hear a ‘click’ and receive a tasty food reward for finding the correct target scent,” Cox said. The land that Magawa and his fellow rodents make safe allows local communities to expand and then improve their livelihoods.
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