African hero rat wins gold medal

An African giant pouched rat has been awarded a gold medal for his work saving human lives by detecting land mines.

The BBC reports that the rat, Magawa, has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions in his career.

The British animal charity PDSA presented him with the medal for his life-saving work in Cambodia, where there are up to six million mines.

Magawa, seven years old, is from Tanzania.

He was trained by the charity Apopo from Belgium which trains the rats, which they call HeroRATS, to detect landmines and tuberculosis.

Training takes one year.

Magawa is capable of searching a field the size of a tennis court for landmines in just 20 minutes.

Apopo says this would take a person with a metal detector up to four days.