Dr. Mike Bingham has worked for the United States Government, British Government, and Falkland Islands Government on a number of wildlife projects. Prior to 1993 Mike was working for the United States Government in Hawaii, helping to establish a research and banding program for marine turtles. In 1993 Mike moved to the Falkland Islands to take up the Government funded post of Conservation Officer. Since then he has been studying penguins, and monitoring the effects of human activity, such as fishing, oil exploration, farming, and tourism. His love of penguins and attention to detail has allowed him to explore the private life of penguins in a way that few others have achieved.
In 1995 Mike led an island-wide penguin census of the Falkland Islands which showed that populations had declined by over 80% since commercial fishing began. The Falkland Islands Government insisted that the declines were part of a global trend, so in 1996 Mike led a penguin census of the remainder of the world population, proving that populations were only declining in the Falklands.
When Mike refused to cover up his findings, he was kicked out as Conservation Officer. Since then he has set up the Environmental Research Unit, and continued his penguin research using independent funding.
In 1998 oil exploration began in the Falklands, and poor environmental protection led to three separate oil spills, killing hundreds of penguins and other seabirds. Mike protested about the lack of environmental safeguards, and the unnecessary damage being done to Falklands wildlife. The Falkland Islands Government decided that Dr. Bingham’s research posed a threat to future wealth from fishing and oil development, and began a campaign to remove him.
Firstly, Mike discovered firearms hidden under his bed, but fortunately was able to dispose of them prior to the Customs raid that followed. Then he was arrested on charges of deception, but released when the Police were forced to admit they had fabricated the evidence. Then the Falkland Islands Government tried to deport him, claiming that he had criminal convictions for burglary, which he didn’t. The government was eventually forced to admit that they had used convictions belonging to a totally different person, and that another "administrative error" had occurred.
When Mike was arrested a third time, he turned to Amnesty International, who put him in touch with Index on Censorship. They exposed the corruption within the Falkland Islands Government, and the story hit the British newspapers in October 1999. The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Post, and Birdwatch magazine all published the story, with titles such as "Arrested, framed, threatened - Researcher fights a one-man war in the Falklands."
Despite their 4 year campaign of harassment, the Falkland Islands Government were forced to accept Mike’s findings regarding penguin declines, and annual fishing efforts have been reduced. Since then Gentoo and Rockhopper penguin populations have stopped declining, and now seem to have reached an equilibrium, albeit at a much lower level than before fishing began. Unfortunately Magellanic Penguins are still declining in the Falklands, and Dr. Bingham is now concentrating on identifying the cause, with support from the Chilean government. Sales from this book help fund this vital research.