The explosives-sniffing African giant pouched rat Magawa — holder of a Guinness World Record for the most land mines detected by that species — died in retirement over the weekend. He was 8 years old.
Magawa, who was born in Tanzania, was trained in that East African country to detect explosives. At the age of 3, he moved to Siem Reap, in Cambodia’s northwest, where he helped clear more than 2.4 million square feet of land over the next half decade. (The Southeast Asian country is one of the world’s most dangerous for land mines and explosives because of the Vietnam War and its own bloody 20th-century civil conflict.)
Apopo, the nonprofit that trained the rat, said Magawa had detected 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance as of June, when he retired. In September 2020, Magawa was awarded a gold medal for bravery from a British charity — an honor that had previously gone only to dogs.