An African Giant Pouched Rat called Magawa just bagged a gold medal for his relentless service of sniffing out active landmines in Cambodia, which if stepped by humans could spell disaster.
The gold medal, a non-military award from the British charity PDSA usually given to humans for animal activism, for the first time went to a rat for his invaluable service of bomb-detecting.
On paper, it might sound easy for a rat with the innate smelling capacity to sniff out explosives, but the job gets tough when danger looms in nearly every footstep or rather paws.
It is estimated there are as many as 80 million active landmines lurking beneath the purview around the world. In Cambodia alone, there are an estimated three million landmines unfound, since the 1970s when 4-6 million of them were laid.
Magawa, a rat much larger than an average pet rat uses his highly sensitive nose to sniff out the chemical used to make landmine. He has been doing this for the past five years and masters his job and is the charity’s most successful HeroRAT.
Magawa usually signals his handler once he smells an active landmine on the field and absolutely ignores any scrap metal that comes his way, according to PSDA.
Not only is his success rate extensive, the rat reportedly can sniff out landmines from an area equivalent to a tennis field in less than 30 minutes, which a human with a metal detector will need three-four days to complete.
By sniffing out landmines from Cambodia’s highly threatened landscapes, Magawa saves the lives of thousands, who could have potentially stepped on a landmine and get seriously injured or killed.
Cambodia has the world’s highest number of mine amputees in the world, with over 40,000 people per capita who are affected by the dreaded device, enemy of humankind.
So far, Magawa has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance to date, and have reportedly covered 141,000 square meters of land as he continues his job.
In doing this he has saved countless lives and is the charity’s most-successful rat. Imagine sniffing out land equivalent to twenty football pitches, Magawa’s lifetime record is that. A gold-standard candidate for the medal.