Mine-Detecting Rat In Cambodia Wins Award For Bravery
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
All right. We're now going to introduce you to a rat, a rat named Magawa.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
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.
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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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