The Falkland Islands government website has a few pretty photographs of penguins in its environment section but rather little information about them. That seems typically British at any rate.
Falklands Conservation (the island partner of BirdLife International) has rather more information on the penguins: 210,000 pairs of rockhoppers, 140,000 pairs of Magellanics, 120,000 pairs of gentoos (around a third of the world population) and a few macaronis and king penguins too. It makes you wonder how the penguins would vote doesn’t it – they are a rather larger constituency than the people?
Oh yes – I almost forgot – there are about 400,000 pairs of black-browed albatrosses too which comprise c70% of the world population.
And the waters over which the albatrosses soar on stiff wings, and in which the penguins swim, are not only rich in current wildlife. Under their surface there are the fossilised bodies of long-dead plankton – which we call oil – apparently about $160,000,000,000 worth. And you do have to wonder, don’t you, whether the UK is more interested in the oil riches around the islands than the wildlife riches, or indeed than the fate of the people. Or at least I wonder that.
I’ve not been able to find out much about Argentina’s environmental record although their Happy Planet Index puts them 17th on the list and the UK about 120th. Hmmm. Maybe we should ask the penguins – after all, living c300 miles off the coast of Argentina, and just 7800 miles from London, they are bound to speak English rather than Spanish, I’m sure.
Or perhaps we ought to ask our government to make some real commitments to protect the precious wildlife of all the UK Overseas Territories – both terrestrial and marine.