Penguin News Update
Headlines: Royal visit; Vet hopeful of reindeer recovery; Holberg en route to Monte; This week's cruise visitors.
Kayakers conquer The World - fuelled by a flask of teaTHREE intrepid explorers achieved the mammoth goal of kayaking around The Worldat the weekend. Armed only with a flask of tea, John Birmingham, Nigel Leach and Shona Strange were successful in their attempt to circumnavigate The WorldÃÂ¢€" twice - and are suitably proud of their achievement. A ship that carries luxury vacation residences to the four corners of the globe, The World, was anchored in Port William for the day on Sunday. The kayakers' next mission is, "...to Infinityand beyond!" Royal visitHER Royal Highness the Princess Royal arrives in the Falklands today. Members of the public will have a number of opportunities to see Princess Anne and her husband, Rear Admiral Timothy Laurence during their brief visit, before they fly to Antarctica on Monday. They will land at the football pitch in Stanley at 5.15 this evening and depart from there the following morning at 9.15. They will attend a government-hosted reception in the Town Hall on Saturday afternoon. Tickets for this are still available free of charge from Gilbert House; members of the public who have tickets are asked to be in the hall by 3.45pm. Princess Anne is expected to depart Government House on foot at 9.35 on Sunday morning and walk to the Liberation Monument where she will lay a wreath. She will then move to join a service at Christ Church Cathedral, where she will read a lesson. For safety reasons, Ross Road will be closed from Reservoir Road to Philomel Hill on Sunday morning from 9.15am until 10am. Inspector Len McGill of the Royal Falkland Islands Police said this is to allow HRH to walk down Ross Road to church: "All cars have to be parked away from Ross Road, just as would be the case for a parade." Continued on page 3. Vet hopeful of reindeer recovery AFTER losing more than half its number at Hill Cove, the national reindeer herd is now doing much better at its new home, Albemarle. Vet Joe Hollins this week reported that he visited the herd over the New Year and was delighted with their progress. He said that, due to the problems they were having at Hill Cove, he had feared many would be barren; only one had been obviously pregnant. "However the herd of 12 is now accompanied by four fawns, all of which appear to be female and are in good condition. This is ideal since excess stags result in a fight to gain herd dominance, whereas what we require at the moment is breeders." He said the condition of the animals has improved markedly: "they are now fully fleshed if not fat, with full bellies, have either shed or have begun to shed their old white coats for glossy chocolate summer coats, and are in velvet." He was "personally amazed" that animals could make such a turnaround in less than two months. The reindeer herd arrived in the Falklands in 2001, when 59 fawns were imported from South Georgia. In November, Penguin Newsreported that animal numbers had plummeted and Mr Hollins had travelled to Hill Cove to supervise their capture and movement to Albemarle and eventually to camp at Cape Meredith. From a herd of 32 animals, only 13 remained. The reindeer made the move well, he said. "We had one calf born prematurely at Hill Cove to a maiden cow (doe) which she abandoned. Hand rearing was attempted, but the fawn was a very immature animal, a slow starter, and despite doing well initially, succumbed to diarrhoea after 10 days. This was disappointing but unsurprising. "Because the reindeer were in a weakened state, I expected a loss en route. Actually they travelled exceedingly well, far better than expected by a long way." Once at Albemarle, another animal was lost within the first 48 hours, when one of the oldest cows died in a ditch; Mr Hollins put this down to her weakened state. "So the herd was reduced to 12. Fortunately it is well balanced, with one adult stag, one yearling stag, and the rest females." Mr Hollins was grateful for the assistance of Leon Marsh, "who dropped everything to truck them," and to Albemarle farmer Leon Berntsen. Why have they suffered? Mr Hollins said a number of factors contributed to the animals' suffering at Hill Cove. "Faeces samples showed that they had become quite heavily parasitized with sheep nematodes (worms), appropriate foodstuffs ÃÂ¢€" lichens, mosses and so on - had probably become eaten out and are slow to replace, and the poor summer, resulting in poor body fat (exacerbated by worms) was followed by a wet winter with high wind chill factors." He added that "The Falklands Factor" also played a part, explaining, "It is likely that the area was simply deficient in something that they required. This is not the habitat in which they evolved, although it resembles it." Albemarle should be different, Mr Hollins said, because Mr Berntsen has put aside the area for use by the reindeer only: they will compete with no other stock except stray sheep. He added, "It has only really had a few horses and cattle on it in the last few years as Leon has been preparing for the reindeer for some time. This makes it virtually clean land as far as parasites are concerned." Mr Hollins said the area is "the same but of outstanding quality" compared to Hill Cove. "There are appropriate foods of all sorts in great quantities: lichens, moss beds, sedges, cinnamon grass, and masses of tussac, as well as extensive greens, numerous pockets of permanent water, good shelter with rocky bluffs and escarpments for weather of all types and conditions. Leon knows it to be excellent ground for fattening stock." Of course, nothing is guaranteed, Mr Hollins said and, "reindeer are notoriously fickle and subject to population crashes," but he said he was personally delighted with the quality of camp, and genuinely amazed at how the reindeer have come on. "I also have great confidence in Leon Berntsen who is a stockman of high repute, has dedicated a large and valuable area of his land to the reindeer herd, and has taken a great personal interest. Nobody could have done more to give them a chance of recovery." He added, "We can only hope that this is the turnaround we have been looking for." Holberg en route to MonteTHE trawler Holberghas left the Islands after it was successfully refloated last week. She was towed out of Tamar Pass at lunchtime on Monday and was last seen by the Marine Officer, Jon Clark, being towed away at a speed of around five knots by the Mariana Rojamar II. He believes the vessel is salvable: "I suspect they'll dry her out and we'll probably see her back here." Luckily, the ship's auxiliary generator was higher in the engine room than the main engine and situated on the starboard side of the vessel, meaning it was not submerged. Within 24 hours of the refloatation of the Holberg, that generator was going again. Mr Clark owed much of the success of the job to the "slow and painstaking" approach taken by the professionals involved, "which was done without creating any mess." This week's cruise visitors BREMEN will visit Stanley today bringing approximately 180 passengers. On Monday, Insignia will visit Stanley (with 824 passengers), while Vistamar(277) calls in at West Point Island. She will head to Stanley on Tuesday. On Thursday, Explorer (100) is in town, along with Silver Wind (315) and Amadea (615). Orlova(124) will spend Thursday at West Point and New Island.