• A rat called Magawa was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for his “life-saving” work in Cambodia.
  • Magawa who is an African Giant Pouched Rat and is just under eight years old, is the first rat to win this medal and was given the award by PDSA’s Director-General in a virtual presentation.
  • PDSA was founded in 1917 by animal welfare pioneer Maria Dickin and is one of the UK’s leading veterinary charities.

       What is the PDSA Gold Medal?

  • 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.
  • The medal has been awarded to over 30 animals so far. All other recipients are dogs.
  • Since the early 1990s, a charity called APOPO has been training rats to detect landmines in Tanzania.
  • It is estimated that over 80 million landmines are active and unknown across the world.
  • While the African Giant Pouched Rat is much larger than the usual pet rats, but it is still light enough to not trigger a landmine by walking over it.
  • Rats like Magawa and others whose official job title is “HeroRAT” are considered easy to train.
  • Magawa has been at work in Cambodia – which has the highest number of mine amputees per capita in the world at over 40,000 people– since over seven years and can search an area the size of a tennis court in about 30 minutes, something that would take a human with a metal detector over four days.