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Around The Sun: The Perfect Landmine Clearance Solution

In the best tradition of Jonathan Swift, the satirist who wrote Gulliverís Travels, Steve Harrison suggests a shocking solution to a terrible problem that is afflicting Cambodia.

Cambodia has more unexploded ordinance (UXO) than any other country. The country has a population of 12 million, and there are an estimated 13 million UXOs.

I am informed that 450 of these mines are accidentally exploded every year, which means that on average there is more than one person killed or injured every day.

We had a bar in Phnom Penh. Some of the guys employed by the mine clearance companies used to come in for a drink, and they gave me regular progress reports on their work. I was always dismayed by their stories. Their work was tedious and very dangerous, but it was also extremely well-paid. Those guys planned to work for a number of years, realising they would not achieve a whole lot, then retire to luxury, never having to work again. It seemed to me that they were more interested in maintaining a profitable livelihood for themselves and others, rather than clearing away all the mines.

Having considered this matter I have come up with what I think would be the most cost-effective way of dealing with those UXOs in Cambodia.

Kangaroos.

Australia has more kangaroos than people. You could say it has plague of them. The Government hires shooters to annually cull the creatures.

Why not import say 100 pairs of breeding kangaroos into Cambodia? Let them loose in those heavily-mined areas. An adult kangaroo covers about 20 feet at a single leap. The moment its feet touch the ground it is airborne again for another 20 feet. I am told that the problem with a mine is not stepping on it, but stepping off it. It seems to me that the kangaroo is a creature well-suited to trigger a mine then get clear before it goes off.

Sadly some kangaroos will not get away quickly enough, but think of the Cambodians who are not able to leap 20 feet.

Cambodia also has a problem in feeding its population. In some areas of famine villagers sustain themselves by eating large spiders. Seems to me that kangaroo meat might be better.

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