A Rat Receives a Bravery Medal for Mine-Detecting, and It Could Be a Good Disney Movie Story

3 years ago

Heroes can come in different shapes and sizes. Rodents, for example, not only help in research, but they also can clear mines left behind from wars, and save countless lives! Magawa, a 5-year-old giant African pouched rat, became a hero who sniffed out dozens of bombs and received a medal for his “lifesaving bravery and devotion.”

Here at Bright Side we endlessly admire the brave ones, no matter whether it’s people or animals, and we think that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to good deeds.

There are many post-war zones that are full of leftover undetonated mines.

Over 50 countries had military conflicts in the past and now have many mines and explosives left in their fields. People there face the daily threat of running into remnants of military conflicts, according to APOPO. Mozambique, Angola, and Cambodia are among them. Cambodia has an extremely large number of dangerous territories that have explosives.

Since 1979, Cambodia has had over 64,000 casualties because of mines or other explosives, according to the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority.

Rats are the perfect-sized animals to sniff out mines.

The Belgian nonprofit organization, APOPO, has been training animals to find landmines for over 2 decades, where they learn to identify the smell of a chemical compound in explosives, find it in a field, and let human de-miners know, so the mines can be safely removed.

Magawa, a 5-year-old giant African pouched rat, born and raised in Tanzania, has detected over 60 explosive items, having cleared over 140,000 square meters of land. While giant pouched rats are far larger than many other rat species, Magawa is still miniature and light enough that he doesn’t trigger mines while moving past them. He weighs just over 1.23 kg (~ 2.7 lbs) and is about 70 cm (28 in) long.

It’s a prestigious animal award that until 2020 only dogs received.

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, or PDSA, was established in 1917 as a voluntary veterinary clinic and has been honoring heroes among these little guys since 1943.

On September 25, 2020, in a virtual ceremony, PDSA’s Director Jan McLoughlin gave Magawa his gold medal for “life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia.” General McLoughlin said that Magawa is a hero rat and that since it’s the first time in 77 years that a rodent has received the award, the medal was specially designed to fit his neck.

According to Magawa’s colleagues, he celebrated the award by eating a big piece of watermelon.

Do you know of any other animal heroes? We`d be happy to hear from you in the comment section below.

Preview photo credit HANDOUT/AFP/East News


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