This retired bomb sniffer won a medal for bravery3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Would you believe it, if you were told that there is a real life Ratatouille in Cambodia who is even cooler than the one Pixar made for us? If you have any doubts, we have a real life story for you.
Meet Magawa, a 7 year old African pouched rat from Tanzania. Magawa won the bravery award by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) for his service to humanity after discovering 39 landmines and 28 explosive items over 7 years in Cambodia.
A Belgian organisation, APOPO, trained Magawa to find landmines.
The organisation works in Cambodia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to clear landmines left behind as a result of war.
A landmine is an explosive weapon that lies underneath the ground. It gets activated by touch. Many times, it goes off years after a war hurting innocent people. Therefore, it is important to detect them to avoid any casualties.
Magawa can survey a field the size of a tennis court for landmines in 30 minutes that would ordinarily take 4 days for a human with a metal detector!
Magawa, having cleared more than 1,41, 000 sqm of land, is the most celebrated rat of the group called HeroRATs! By doing this, he must have prevented a thousand instances of human injury and suffering. Magawa is a superhero and his superpower is his strong sense of smell!
The PDSA reported that Magawa detects the presence of mines through the chemicals used in them. He lets out a signal for his handler.
Magawa’s sense of smell is so strong that he always leads his handler to the exact location of the mine.
PDSA has been honouring brave animals every year since 2002. This is the first time a rat has received this distinguished honour. Earlier winners include dogs, horses, pigeons and one cat.
Magawa loves bananas and peanuts and would have been happy to receive them as rewards but PDSA went a step ahead to honour this HeroRAT.
The PDSA Gold medal is considered to be the animal equivalent of the George Cross, the highest civilian decoration for bravery. It is the best way to honor Magawa who is soon to retire.
But Owliver believes that he will continue to inspire his successors!
Think with Owliver: 1. Find out about other animals who have been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal and tell Owliver about it in the comments below. 2. There are so many animals, birds, and insects who are keeping us humans safe by taking care of the environment. Post your findings in the comments below!