The latest Dickin Medal award goes to... a rat!
A rat is being honored with one of the highest awards in the animal world after he has potentially saved numerous lives for clearing landmines from fields in Cambodia.
Magawa, an African Giant Pouched Rat, was awarded a gold medal from the PDSA, a British veterinary charity, for his work over the past seven years leading to the detection of 39 landmines and 28 unexploded items and clearing more than 20 soccer fields in the process.
"This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat," said John Smith, the chairman of PDSA.
The PDSA has awarded its gold medal to 29 other animals, all dogs, for "animal bravery and exceptional devotion to duty." The medal for Magawa was specially designed to fit onto his work harness, said Jan McLoughlin, PDSA's director general.
APOPO rats like Magawa undergo training from a young age, and it's safe for them to work in landmine detection because they are light enough not to trigger the explosives, said Christophe Cox, CEO and co-founder of the charity.
"The rats cannot miss any landmine," Cox added. "We really trust our rats, because very often after clearing a minefield, our teams will play a game of soccer on the cleared field to assure the quality of our work."
In Cambodia, around three million landmines remain hidden, and tens of thousands of people in the country have died or been injured, often causing amputations, from the unexploded mines.
"Magawa is a true hero rat," McLoughlin said.
So now we have a new variety of the medal to record in the numismatic catalog - the rat-sized version!
To read the complete articles, see:
Medal for the boomtown rat who detects landmines
Meet Magawa, the 'hero rat' awarded a bravery medal for detecting dozens of landmines
Wayne Homren, Editor
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