Magawa with his primary handler, Malen.
Photo: PDSA

Magawa, a landmine detection rat whose work in Cambodia has transformed the lives of that country’s citizens, has been awarded the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) Gold Medal for his life-saving bravery and devotion to duty.

An African giant pouched rat, Magawa is trained to detect landmines by APOPO, a Belgian-based anti- personnel landmine removal charity. He’s discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance to date, making him the charity’s most successful “HeroRAT.” During his career he has helped clear more than 141,000 square meters of land.

Cambodia estimates that between 4 and 6 million landmines were laid in the country between 1975 and 1998, which have sadly caused more than 64,000 casualties.

Magawa is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honoring animals to receive a PDSA Medal – joining a lineup of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat. Watch a CNN video about Magawa at