Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, won a prestigious award for his “lifesaving bravery and devotion to duty”. Magawa was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for his work detecting mines and explosives in Cambodia. The PDSA Gold Medal was initiated in 2002 and rewards civilian acts of animal bravery and “devotion to duty”. It is the highest honour recognising extraordinary bravery of animals. Magawa has discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia since he was trained by charity APOPO He is Apopo’s “most successful Hero Rat, having cleared more than 141,000 square metres of land - the equivalent of 20 football pitches Also, He is the first of his species to be awarded the medal by PDSA in the London-based charity’s 77-year history. As reported by The Guardian, rats are intelligent and will work at repetitive tasks for food rewards better than other animals. Their size means they are in less danger when they walk through landmine fields. The rats are trained to detect a chemical compound within explosives and require a year of training before they are certified. They work for around half an hour a day, in the early morning. Once they detect a landmine, they scratch the top, which alerts their human handlers The report also suggests that Magawa is now nearing retirement age and can search the area of a tennis court in 30 minutes, something that would take a human with a metal detector up to four days.
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