Giant rat wins animal hero award for sniffing out landmines in Cambodia

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A handout photo made available by APOPO charity shows African giant pouched rat Magawa in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

A landmine-detecting rat became the first to be given a prestigious award for bravery and devotion to duty.

Magawa was presented with British veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ Gold Medal, the animal version of the George Cross (which normally goes to military service dogs) for ‘life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia.’

A handout photo made available by APOPO charity shows African giant pouched rat Magawa in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Cambodia is the second most mine-affected country in the world after Afghanistan, and up to 6 million landmines are thought to have been laid between 1975-1998, with up to 3 million yet to be found, PDSA said.

The hidden mines have caused around 64,000 casualties in the country, which has the highest number of mine amputees per capita in the world – over 40,000 people, it added.

Via EPA-EFE/Maria Anna Caneva Saccardo Caterina / APOPO HANDOUT

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