Project Sekong 2014: A new employee with little experience around UXO forgets what might be underfoot!

February 16, 2014

Learning to work safely around UXO means developing new habits. My new interpreter was happy to have captured this bird until he was reminded that he's stalked it over contaminated land.

While I was distracted See, my newly-hired interpreter in training, wandered off the work site. He reappeared some minutes later immensely pleased with himself. He carried a wounded bird in one hand and a slingshot in the other. I had no idea that he was packing heat.

He had bagged a grey-headed, indigo-bodied songbird about the size of a Blue jay but blessed with extravagant tail feathers that more than doubled its length. I’ve seen the species before, from afar, so I doubt that it is a threatened species but, still, I was saddened to have it hunted. At the moment we have adequate meat in our camp.

Villagers in need subsistence will, of necessity, hunt songbirds; a brace of robin-sized birds may be all the meat a family consumes for several days. In contrast, See bagged his bird on a lark while simply bored. I immediately chewed his shorts but, not about zapping a songbird with a slingshot—he got a free pass on that.

I walked him to the edge of the clearing where we’ve been working and pointed to the expansive array of red sticks our deminers have driven into the ground to mark the location of the twenty-six cluster bomblets that they’ve found thus far—every bomblet was found either on the surface or beneath a thin layer of leaf matter. I then turned him around and pointed to the dense forest behind us—the land where he’d just stalked, shot and recovered his bird.

“How many bomblets do you think might be in the remaining area that we’ve yet to clear? The forest you just walked through hunting birds—walking along…looking at the tree tops rather than the ground where you plant your feet!”

I suspect that tonight at dinner, when See eats that bird, it’s going to go down hard and taste a lot like crow.

One Response to “ Project Sekong 2014: A new employee with little experience around UXO forgets what might be underfoot! ”

  1. Delight Gartlein on April 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Dear Jim,

    As you know I am a passionate birder and of course dismayed to see this wild bird being shot for food. (From my book I learn that this is likely a Long-tailed sibia, and from the Internet learn that it is not endangered as you deduced.) Please tell me why there are not chickens, ducks, and other domestic fowl around for food. What are the economics involved?

    As always, a devoted supporter of your good work.

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