African giant pouched rats—huge, cat-size rodents native to central Africa—have bad vision but an extraordinary sense of smell.
This makes them perfect candidates for discovering hidden landmines by sniffing out the explosive TNT. Even decades after conflict, explosive remnants of war linger in the earth, maiming and killing thousands of people who stumble across them each year.
In 2013, mines and other buried explosives caused 3,308 casualties worldwide—down from 4,325 in 2012, according to the 2014 Landmine Monitor report.
Finding these hidden explosives is challenging and dangerous: People with metal detectors not only risk their lives, they work slowly, stopping to investigate every suspicious ping. Trained dogs, while commonly used, are expensive and tough to transport. (Read more about dogs, rats,