A rat called MAGAWA was awarded a gold medal for its bravery for his life-saving work in Cambodia, on Friday. This African giant pouched rat is the first to be awarded by PDSA’S Director-General in a virtual presentation.
The people’s dispensary for sick animals (PDSA) is a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1917 by Maria Dickin to provide care for sick and injured animals for the poor.
The PDSA Gold Medal is the highest honor recognizing the extraordinary bravery of animals. This was initiated in 2002 and rewards civilian acts of animal bravery and “DEVOTION TO DUTY”.
The medal has been awarded to 30 animals. All the other Recipients are Dogs.
Since the early 1990s, a charity called APOPO has been training rats to detect landmines in Tanzania. It is estimated that over 80 million landmines are active and unknown across the world. While the African Giant Pouched Rat is much larger than the usual pet rats, but it is still light enough to not trigger a landmine by walking over it. Rats like Magawa and others whose official job title is “Hero RAT” are considered easy to train.
Magawa has discovered over 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance to date and has cleared over 141,000 sq. meters of land.