Magawa, an African pouch rat, has been awarded a PDSA Gold Medal for his life-saving work of detecting landmines in Cambodia. The PDSA Gold Medal is the “animal equivalent of the George Cross.” The heroic rat Magawa has been trained by APOPO, a charity in Tanzania, where rats are trained to save lives.
The PDSA awarded the tiny gold medal to the HeroRAT. Additionally, the PDSA is a UK veterinary charity that helps provide free healthcare to animals. Hattie Thorpe told The Koala, “Magawa was the only one to receive PDSA’s prestigious Gold Medal because he was the most successful!”
Magawa has detected “39 landmines and also 28 items of unexploded ordnance” over the course of his career. He is one of the most successful HeroRAT’s of PDSA and has cleared over 141,000 square meters of land. Apart from the pouch rat, the medal has been awarded to many brave dogs, horses, pigeons, and also a cat. Magawa is the first rat “in the charity’s 77-year history of honoring animals to receive a PDSA Medal.”
Jan McLoughlin, PDSA’s Director-General, said, “The work of HeroRAT Magawa and APOPO is truly unique and outstanding. Cambodia estimates that between 4 and 6 million landmines were laid in the country between 1975 and 1998. They have sadly caused over 64,000 casualties.”
Further adding, “HeroRAT 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.”
“The PDSA Animal Awards program seeks to raise the status of animals in society and also honor the incredible contribution they make to our lives. Magawa’s dedication, skill and bravery are an extraordinary example of this and deserve the highest possible recognition. We are thrilled to award him the PDSA Gold Medal,” McLoughlin concluded.
Moreover, a lot of training goes into teaching these rats to detect landmines. They go through “clicker” training and are usually given food also as an incentive for their work.
Congratulations to the heroic rat Magawa for his wonderful and brave work!