Mine-Detecting Rat In Cambodia Wins Award For Bravery Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, trained by the nonprofit APOPO, sniffs for landmines in Cambodia that were left behind after decades of conflict. Magawa just won a gold medal for his bravery.

Mine-Detecting Rat In Cambodia Wins Award For Bravery

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All right. We're now going to introduce you to a rat, a rat named Magawa.


And Magawa is no regular rodent. Magawa is an award-winning hero rat. He lives in Cambodia and sniffs out dangerous land mines left behind after decades of conflict.

MICHAEL HEIMAN: He has a very strong character. He's very quick. And he's a hard worker. But he's also the first one to take a nap when there is a short break.

GREENE: That's Michael Heiman, who works with Magawa in Cambodia.

MARTIN: Magawa was awarded a gold medal for his bravery by the U.K. veterinary charity PDSA. Its chair, John Smith, introduced Magawa at a virtual award ceremony.


JOHN SMITH: This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat.

GREENE: Magawa's tiny, rodent-sized medal hangs on a blue harness under his long snuffling nose. That nose is important, Heiman says.

HEIMAN: Magawa has cleared so far more than 140,000 square meters. And he found more than 60 items, land mines and unexploded ordnances.

GREENE: The giant pouched rat and his human colleagues head out every morning before sunrise to a new site where there might be land mines. He is great at his job, partially because he's too small to actually set off any of the mines.

HEIMAN: He's searching attached to a string back and forward, back and forward until his area is completely cleared. If there is a mine, Magawa will stop and start scratching.

MARTIN: A nonprofit called APOPO trained Magawa and his rodent associates in Tanzania, which is home to a lot of giant pouched rats. They're working with Cambodian officials to try and clear the country of land mines by the year 2025.

HEIMAN: Cambodia has a very high number of victims generally for a country that is suffering from a land mine problem. Recently, these numbers are going down, but we still have a lot of work to do in order to stop this from happening.

GREENE: Magawa took a day off from sniffing to celebrate his award and a career of saving lives.

HEIMAN: Today, he's going to enjoy a huge piece of watermelon. There is already half a watermelon waiting in his home.

GREENE: A gold medal and some celebratory watermelon - you deserve it, Magawa.


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