World Stamps

A dozen new U.N. Endangered Species stamps set to arrive April 7

Mar 25, 2021, 1 PM

By Charles Snee

The United Nations Postal Administration is issuing a new set of 12 Endangered Species stamps on April 7.

The new stamps illustrate “species of fauna and flora that are endemic or unique to a certain environment or region,” according to the UNPA’s Bulletin for collectors.

The stamps continue the UNPA’s Endangered Species series, which began in 1993. Like previous stamps in this series, the new stamps are issued in panes of 16, each with four se-tenant (side-by-side) designs. There is a separate pane for each U.N. post office.

The four $1.20 stamps for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City show a Waigeo cuscus (Spilocuscus papuensis), helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops Cassidix), Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) and American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).

The Waigeo cuscus, a type of marsupial, takes its name from the island of Waigeo in Indonesia, which is its only habitat. Both males and females exhibit a distinctive coat of black-and-white spots.

A critically endangered species, the helmeted honeyeater is found only in Australia. Just three small populations of the bird are known in a swamp forest to the east of Melbourne, according to Zoos Victoria.

Subtropical wetlands in North Carolina and South Carolina are home to the carnivorous Venus flytrap. According to the Botanical Society of America, “Like other plants, Venus’ Flytraps gather nutrients from gases in the air and nutrients in the soil. However, they live in poor soil and are healthier if they get nutrients from insects.”

Waterways in the United States from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas are home to the American alligator. Males average about 11 feet in length, and females are about 8 feet long. Very large males approach 1,000 pounds.

The four 1.50-franc stamps for use from the post office at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, show a golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas), greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis), ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and grand spider orchid (Caladenia huegelii).

Golden-headed lion tamarins live only in Brazil and are named for their distinctive golden manes.

These tree-dwelling primates subsist on a diet of fruit and small insects and vertebrates. Many of the seeds from the fruit they eat pass through their digestive system unharmed, which aids in seed dispersal that promotes growth of new plants.

The greater bilby is one of a group of Australian ground-dwelling marsupials called bandicoots. According to the Australian Museum, the greater bilby is sometimes portrayed as Australia’s Easter bunny.

Long claws and strong forelimbs help the greater bilby find buried food and dig its burrow. As an omnivore, the greater bilby feeds on seeds, fungi, fruit and insects. Termites and their larvae are a particular favorite.

Endemic to southwestern Madagascar, the ring-tailed lemur is named for the 13 black-and=white stripes that alternate along its tail.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute notes that ring-tailed lemurs “will gather in open areas of the forest to sunbathe. They sit in what some call a ‘yoga position’ with their bellies toward the sun and their arms and legs stretched out to the sides. This position maximizes the exposure of the less densely covered underside of the lemurs to the sun, warming them up before they forage.”

Ring-tailed lemurs are also known for their various vocal calls. Their territorial call can be heard more than a half mile away.

The eye-catching grand spider orchid is endemic to Western Australia. It features a large colorful central petal, or labellum, that functions to attract insects that pollinate the flower. The labellum, which is fringed on each side, serves as a stable platform upon which insects can land.

The €0.90 stamps illustrate a pair of orange-bellied parrots (Neophema chrysogaster), a babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa, also called a deer-pig), bridled nail-tailed wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata) and telipogon-like lepanthes (Lepanthes telipogoniflora).

These stamps are for use from the post office at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria.

According to the eBird website, the orange-bellied parrot is a critically endangered bird found “breeding in tree hollows on button grass moors in southwest Tasmania in summer, and wintering on saltmarsh in coastal Victoria and South Australia.”

With fewer than 50 thought to exist in the wild today, the orange-bellied parrot is considered one of Australia’s most threatened species.

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance states: “The babirusa has been called ‘a wild pig with a dental problem.’ They have remarkable tusks or canine teeth that can grow right up through the skin in their snout and curve back toward their forehead. The word babirusa means ‘pig deer’ in the Malay language, as their wild-growing tusks are reminiscent of deer antlers.”

In captivity, the babirusa can live up to 24 years. Ten years is a normal life span in the wild.

The bridled nail-tailed wallaby is native to Australia and was believed to be extinct for most of the 20th century. However a small population was discovered in 1973. Since that time, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy has reintroduced populations in the Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary (2005) and in Pilliga, New South Wales (2019).

On the €0.90 stamp, a bridled nail-tailed wallaby joey (baby) is seen poking its head out of its mother’s pouch.

The telipogon-like lepanthes is a miniature orchid that is also an epiphyte, meaning that it grows on another plant without being parasitic. Native to Colombia, it is typically found at elevations of 400 meters to 700m, or approximately 1,300 feet to 2,300 feet.

Rorie Katz of the United Nations designed the new Endangered Species stamps using illustrations by Cuban-American artist and author Juan Carlos Alonso.

Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands printed the stamps by offset lithography in the following quantities: 12,000 panes of 16 $1.20 stamps, 11,000 panes of 16 1.50fr stamps, and 12,500 panes of 16 €0.90 stamps.

Each stamp measures 39.2mm by 28.6mm and is perforated gauge 12½ by 12¾.

The selvage of the panes includes a border design of silhouettes of different endangered species. On each pane, silhouettes of the four animals featured on the stamps are shown in the corners.

For ordering information for these new Endangered Species stamps and related products, visit the UNPA website; email unpanyinquiries@un.org; telephone 212-963-7684 or 800-234-8672; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.

The UNPA explains in a notice on its website that while orders may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is committed to filling them as soon as possible.

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