A rat has been awarded a prestigious gold medal for his work detecting land mines.
The African giant pouched named Magawa has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions in his career.
There are thought to be up to six million landmines in the southeast Asian country.
The gold medal is inscribed with the words “For animal gallantry or devotion to duty”. There have been 30 animal recipients of this award. However, Magawa is the first rat.
The seven-year-old rat was trained by the Belgium-registered charity Apopo. this group has been raising rats – known as HeroRATs – to detect landmines since the 1990s.
Magawa was born and raised in Tanzania. He weighs 1.2kg and is 70cm long. While that is far larger than many other rat species, Magawa is still small enough and light enough that he does not trigger mines if he walks over them.
The rats are trained to detect a chemical compound within the explosives, meaning they ignore scrap metal and can search for mines more quickly.
Magawa is capable of searching a field the size of a tennis court in just 20 minutes – something Apopo says would take a person with a metal detector between one and four days.