Why is rat Magawa making headlines?

Is that someone famous?

Not exactly, but he should be. He is a rat who has just won a medal for “lifesaving bravery and devotion to duty”.

That is incredible. What did he do?

Magawa, trained by the charity APOPO, has discovered 39 landmines and 28 unexploded ordnance items in Cambodia.

Wow. So the “lifesaving” part is no exaggeration

Nope. He has cleared over 141,000 square metres of land, which is about 20 football pitches, making it safe for people in the area. He is APOPO’s most successful “Hero Rat”.

Bravo, little fellow! What’s this award about?

He was presented with a mini PDSA Gold Medal, which is the animal-world equivalent of the George Cross. But he will also be given a watermelon or two as a treat, according to the PDSA awards manager.

Haha. That sounds more suited to his tastes. I am curious — is it common to use rats to detect landmines?

Rats are supposedly good at detecting landmines because they are smart and willing to do repetitive tasks for food.

Very impressive. Isn’t it still dangerous, though?

Well, their small size means they are in less danger when they walk through minefields. They can also do it faster.

Must be a long workday for Magawa.

He can search an area the size of a tennis court in just half an hour. It would take a human with a metal detector about four days to cover such an area.

I guess some good things do come in small packages!

Yup, they really do.


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