Reprieve for penguins

Published: Wednesday 31 August 1994

All's well that end well for the plump toddlers. France has finally decided to give up its 12-year effort to build a large Antarctic landing strip at the French base of Dumont d'Urville, on Terre-Adelie, near a penguin rookery and bird sanctuary.

France had turned a deaf ear to the protests of environmental groups such as Greenpeace, who had waged a lengthy crusade against the project. However, a tidal wave deluged the 1,096.89 metre runway in January, prompting the government to change its mind.

The proposed airstrip posed a major threat to Terre-Adelie's fauna, which include Emperor and Adelie penguins, the giant petrel and the south polar skua. Blasting and construction of the runway has already displaced 10 per cent of the Adelie penguins and hundreds of birds may have been killed, says Greenpeace.

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