Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mine fields to protect wild life

Penguins stay snug and secure in minefields
KIDNEY COVE, Falkland Islands (Reuters) -- There's a mating ritual going on in the minefield.

Fortunately the would-be lovers are penguins, too light to detonate the deadly mines laid more than two decades ago during a war on the far-flung Falkland Islands.

Thousands of penguins and other feathered and amphibious friends choose to nest and rest in no-go zones. The British estimate that some 25,000 land mines, mostly sown by Argentine forces in the 1982 war with Britain, remain.

On a recent day, the squawking penguins were busily finding partners, preparing nests and waddling about the mating grounds.

Wildlife numbers in the mined areas appear to be on the rise and conservationists cannot hide their enthusiasm about this unorthodox form of protecting lands previously trampled by people or overgrazed by sheep.

It is the bright spot in a long-term land mine problem -- one that is not likely to go away because de-mining is difficult, if not impossible, in the peaty soils and shifting sands of this South Atlantic archipelago.

Grant Munro, director of Falklands Conservation, says the boost to wildlife is a bit anecdotal since "it has really not been looked into, for obvious reasons."

"But you see an assemblage of plants in the minefields, all fenced and inspected, with no livestock inside. Vegetation has had a chance to recover," he added.

1 comment:

grrrbear said...

You *know* President Shrub has a team of people working on how to spin this news into a way to make Iraq palatable - by marketing it as the world's largest nature refuge.

"Protected by thousands of tons of unexploded munitions..."