In the Falklands, an abandoned minefield has accidentally become a penguin sanctuary. The mines were set in the Falklands conflict and have remained there since, keeping humans away. The local Magellanic penguins are too small to set them off and have thrived in the area.

The Falklands penguins that would not explode

The minefields laid in the Falkland Islands were intended to kill or maim British soldiers, but over the last 35 years they have become de facto nature reserves for penguins. For better or worse, however, the time has now come for their home to be demined, reports Matthew Teller.

I’m following a crunching gravel path leading up over a headland.

To one side stretches a sweeping curve of white sand, backed by tussocky dunes, the coarse grass mixed with a low-growing plant bearing tartly sweet red berries that the locals call diddle-dee.

But it’s the sound that startles. Overlaying the booming ocean is a comical honking noise coming from thousands of Magellanic penguins. One, guarding its burrow beside the … Continue Reading (5 minute read)

14 thoughts on “In the Falklands, an abandoned minefield has accidentally become a penguin sanctuary. The mines were set in the Falklands conflict and have remained there since, keeping humans away. The local Magellanic penguins are too small to set them off and have thrived in the area.”

  1. CrocodylusNiloticus

    Until one fat penguin.

  2. ShorterThanTallll

    That’s one way to stick to a diet…

  3. AlexWheeldon

    I’ve been there, and I walked across the minefield unknowingly in 2011. We got to the fence and there was a sign on it and when we stepped over the fence it had a picture of mines and bones crossed on it. Some pictures I took [here](https://imgur.com/gallery/Qca6lOT)

    Edit: minefield fencing [here](https://imgur.com/gallery/KJbyiGq) sorry it’s poor quality I can’t seem to do anything about that. It’s the row at the back with the upside down red triangles with white skull and crossbones that we saw after the fact we’d just walked a mile through the minefield

  4. -QueHoreEs

    Interestingly the UK fought for a long time against its international obligation to clear the landmines as to clear them would result in the destruction of some of the habitat that had grown up around them. They argued they weren’t hurting anyone and to clear them would hurt the wildlife – why not leave them.

    I believe they lost and the beach is now clear

  5. B-loved_Dreamer

    It was like this in Bosnia, too.
    The mines left behind dissuaded people from hunting, throwing trash, or walking in the woods, and the fauna rebounded massively.
    Boars became plentiful, as did other tasty beasts.

  6. Waiting4Something

    This makes me happy

  7. I_might_be_weasel

    This is why they didn’t want Happy Feet to dance.

    “Stop jumping around, you’ll kill us all!”

  8. pj566

    In the finding nemo universe, you think they repeatedly yell “mine” as they run around?

  9. TruthOf42

    Eventually the mines will decompose or rust away. Will they explode unexpectedly, or will they eventually become safe after enough of the parts rust away or decompose?

  10. mk19ez

    ……how many penguins does it take to set off a mine?

  11. inbredpoetsociety

    I bet penguin obseity rates are really low there as well

  12. PanicEnthusiast

    Landmines are a serious issue. I hope they figure it out before they become migratory, and yes I mean the landmines.

    Erosion moves many landmines every year during the monsoon season some areas of Afghanistan get. Then they move back into previously cleared areas and can cause real damage.

    Edit: I’d assume the falkland mines are European and could be grasped by the husk.

  13. Tattoomyvagina

    Polar bears that enter the area to attack the penguins explode. The penguins think it’s divine intervention, one persuasive penguin claims to be the chosen one. They create doctorin believing they’re the favored race and begin violently converting the the puffins while developing weapons and new torture methods against the predators who they believe are evil. They erect giant cathedrals and spread their gospel across the globe. The wars that follow last for hundreds of years and nearly eradicated the polar bears and the seals.

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