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How Landmines Saved the Penguins

The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. 30 years ago, they became a clash of interests between Great Britain and Argentina. Both countries claimed these pieces of land 500 km off the coast of South America. Since 1833, the islands were, as it were, considered the overseas possessions of Britain, but in 1982 Argentina landed its troops on the islands, as a result of which the Falklands War began. In ten weeks of confrontation, 650 Argentine military personnel, 250 British soldiers, and three local islanders were killed. As a result, the islands were left to Great Britain. But in fact, the winners were … the penguins!

In general, back in the 18th century, the islands were chosen by whalers who extracted whale oil. To do this, they boiled pieces of whale carcasses in huge vats of boiling water. Trees were used as fuel, which were cut down on the spot. And soon all of them were knocked out. There was a crisis, but someone came up with the idea of ​​using penguins as fuel, which had a fairly serious layer of fat and were easy to catch. To maintain the fire, it was simply necessary to throw more and more penguins there, thanks to which, over 300 years, the population of these animals was destroyed by 95%. And then the very Falklands War began …

Since the Argentines landed their troops on the islands first, they immediately began to mine the coast to prevent the British from landing. In total, at least 20,000 antipersonnel mines were planted. Practically around the entire perimeter of the islands. After the war, the British authorities tried to clear the banks, but the case turned out to be very expensive and dangerous. Therefore, wherever mines were left, fences with warning signs were erected. People do not go there to this day, more than 30 years later.

And these places have become real sanctuaries for penguins! The penguins turned out to be light enough that the mines would not be triggered by their weight. Therefore, they live comfortably and calmly on the beaches, where they find pairs and build their nests. Gradually, the population began to recover and now more than 1 million birds live on the mined beaches. It sounds funny, but these fences with the inscription “Mines” have become a real mecca for ecotourism. A lot of people from all over the world come to the Falklands to see this miracle …

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