Cambodia: The rat named Magawa has been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal. The medal is awarded to honour the bravery of the to the animals. Magawa has detected more than 39 landmines and other explosive material. On detecting the landmine, he starts digging the ground, which makes his caretakers aware of the presence of explosive material.
Magawa is trained by Belgian non-profit organization Apopo. This organization has been using animals to locate landmines since the year 1990. According to the organization, Magawa is underweight. Even if it reaches over a landmine, it still does not explode. It takes 20 minutes to examine a field as large as a tennis court.
A UK charity has awarded a Gold Medal for bravery to a giant African-born rat. This rat helped remove landmines in Cambodia. He is the first rat to win this award. This African giant pouched rat is named Magawa and is seven years old. He sniffed and discovered 39 landmines. Apart from this, he also discovered 28 other such ammunition which were not torn. On Friday, the UK charity Charity PDSA honored the rat.
Magawa helped make the 1.5 million sq ft area in the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia free of landmines. The place can be compared with the equivalent of 20 football pitches. These landmines date back to the 1970s and 1980s when the barbaric civil war broke out in Cambodia. The Mine Action Center (CMAC) of Cambodia says that the area of 6 million sq ft still remains to be explored.
Rats are taught how to detect chemical elements in explosives and to ignore waste metal. This means that they can quickly detect landmines. Once they find the explosive, then they alert their human colleagues about it. Their training takes a year. The Halo Trust, an NGO working for landmine removal, says that since 1979, 64,000 people have died due to these landmines while more than 25000 have been crippled.
Magawa weighs just 1.2 kg and is 70 cm tall. This means that it is not heavy, if it passes over the landmines, they don’t burst. He can search the space equivalent to a tennis court in half an hour. Humans need four days to clean such a large area with the help of metal detectors.
Magava is now nearing his retirement after completing seven years of age. The San Diego Zoo in California states that the average age of giant African pouched rat is eight years. PDSA Director General Jan McLaughlin said in a conversation with the Press Association of Britain that Magawa has saved the lives of men, women and children who are affected by these landmines.