Giant African Pouched Rat Receives A Gold Medal For Detecting Landmines In Cambodia

Oct 16, 2020 by apost team

If you think about "animal heroes," images of dogs likely come to mind, or maybe a cat who called 9-1-1 for its owner. You might even think about a horse that taught a young girl to have faith in life again. Whatever image you conceive, it is unlikely to be a rat. Although rats have saved millions of lives through their sacrifices to scientific research, it is rare that a single one makes an impact.

Yet, one brave Cambodian rat has done just that. This brave rodent, named Magawa, has become the first-ever rat to be awarded the prestigious lifesaving bravery award by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals.

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This honor has been bestowed upon animals by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals for over 75 years. This British organization has devoted itself to any civilian, large or small, who have demonstrated a level of heroism worthy of celebration. Needless to say, Magawa made the cut.

So what did this minuscule measure of bravery do to deserve such an honor? For his entire career, he has been employed searching for land mines and ever unexploded ordinances throughout Cambodia. Cambodia still has countless mines scattered upon its surface from the myriad of wars it has faced throughout the years.

Although these explosives were designed for wars, there is little record of where they are placed and almost no effort is ever spent to clean up immediately following a war. Thus, every year, dozens of men, women, and children are injured when they unknowingly tread on a hidden mine.

To solve this, thousands of volunteers have made it their mission to find these mines and safely dispose of them. However, this is no easy task. They needed help.

So far, Magawa has found over 40 mines and 30 unexploded ordinances. He has been on the field for over four years and has cleared an incredible 1.5 million square feet. Despite his tiny size, he has searched and cleared the equivalent of 20 football fields.

It is hard to know how many lives the brave little rat has saved. Jan McLoughlin, the director-general for the charity, was quoted as saying, as reported by the BBC: "Magawa's work directly saves and changes the lives of men, women, and children who are impacted by these landmines. Every discovery he makes reduces the risk of injury or death for local people."

Magawa is a 5-year-old African Giant Pouched rat. Thus, he is larger than most rats you may think of. Although his skill and bravery are unique, he is not alone in his mission. He is a member of the "Hero Rat" program, run by APOPO.

APOPO is a non-profit organization from Belgium that works across the whole of Africa and Southeast Asia. They train and deploy rats to detect a variety of threats. Beyond just land mines, they can even train these tiny creatures to detect tuberculosis! There is seemingly no end to the talent and willingness of these furry little heroes.

For their mine-hunting work, the rats are trained to hunt out TNT, the chemical in explosives that makes them so dangerous. Thus, he can be taught to avoid other metal objects buried in the soil. His incredible sense of smell makes him significantly faster and more efficient than any human could ever be.

Although Magawa is the first rat to receive this award for bravery, there are animals across the world that contribute tirelessly to the betterment of our society. By working together, we can utilize our strengths to make the world a better place for all of its inhabitants. What's your favorite example of an animal devoted to service?

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