SIEM REAP, Cambodia - A normally-despised rodent became a Cambodian hero by helping save lives from a deadly war weapon.
"Magawa," a giant African pouched rat, was awarded a gold medal by a British veterinary charity for spotting 39 landmines, and 28 items of unexploded ordnance.
The rat was trained by the APOPO charity for land mines detection and given the gold medal by the people's dispensary for sick animals.
Magawa covered over 141,000 square meters to find the landmines, leftover from the estimated four to six million landmines laid between 1975 and 1998.
Magawa's gold medal is the animal equivalent to Britain’s George Cross for acts of heroism in danger.