Bomb-detecting rat wins medal for bravery

A rat has been given a distinguished award for bravery for his services to humanity. The valiant rodent is called Magawa. He was awarded a gold medal for his seven years of duty sniffing out dozens of landmines in Cambodia. He was bestowed the award by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals charity. This is a veterinary charity based in the United Kingdom. The charity explained why Magawa was recognised for his courage. It wrote: "The PDSA...seeks to raise the status of animals in society and honour the incredible contribution they make to our lives. Magawa's dedication, skill and bravery are an extraordinary example of this and deserve the highest possible recognition."

Magawa is an African Giant Pouched Rat. He was used in the mine-clearing programme because rats are the creatures best suited to safely detect landmines. They are light and have a keen sense of smell. In his seven-year stint on the front line, Magawa helped to detect 39 landmines and 28 unexploded devices. He helped to clear more than 141,000 square meters of land - an area roughly the size of 20 soccer pitches. This makes him the most successful rodent in the history of landmine detection. The charity's chairman said: "This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honouring animals that we have presented a medal to a rat." Reporters tried to interview Magawa but he was unavailable for comment.