Wandering through the website last year of the World Land Trust (WLT), the international organisation and charity that exists to “protect the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre” I came across a section that deals with threatened wildlife, including birds at risk; and the work that the WLT is doing to help support that particular species. The one bird that caught my interest was the Blue-billed Curassow, native of northern Colombia. This is a Critically Endangered bird, native solely to Colombia and which is threatened by human activity, notably:
- Loss of forest habitat at a rate of between 2-7 per cent a year, through conversion to farm land (cocoa, coffee and marijuana);
- Poaching of birds for meat and eggs as well as hunting for the pet trade;
- Loss of habitat through gold mining activities to the East of the range.
In short, the greatest threat to the continued existence of this bird is human economic activity. Its habitat is now limited to five small pockets of northern Colombia, where tropical lowland forests still remain.
Where is Palau?
Palau is a group of coral and volcanic islands that form an archipelago that is located in the Pacific Ocean. A barrier reef encircles a major part of the archipelago. The nearest neighbours to Palau are the Philippines to the West and the island of New Guinea to the South. The principal inhabited islands are Babelthuap (or Babeldoab), Koror, Malakal, Arakabesan, Peleliu, Belilou and Angaur.
Palau has an estimated population of 18,000 (2019) and uses the US dollar as its currency. The Republic of Palau came into existence as a nation state on 1 October 1994. The Constitution of Palau is based on a bi-cameral legislative body, known as “The Olbiil Era Kelulau” made up of a House of Delegates and a Senate. The Senate has authority to provide advice to the President; and consent to Presidential appointments. The Executive is represented by the President, Vice President, the Ministries and the Council of Chiefs, a body that represents one traditional tribal chief from each of Palau’s island state.
The geography of Palau – the barrier reef and archipelago – are nicely illustrated on this souvenir sheet issued on 14 June 2019, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Palau Conservation Society.
Endangered Birds The Souvenir Sheet features one bird on a 55c stamp: the endangered “Bekai” or Palau Megapode (Megapodius laperouse senex). This is one of the species that the Palau Conservation Society is seeking to protect.
Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
When I recently wrote an article on “Incongruous issues” I included amongst these this splendid souvenir-sheet based stamp of the Crowned Crane, designed and printed by the Inter-Government Philatelic Corporation (IGPC) for Liberia; and valued at $280.
The reason I considered that this issue was odd, centres upon the fact that the Grey Crowned Crane is not a native of Liberia, or West Africa, but is found more in Central and Southern parts of the African continent. Of course, the issue of this stamp well justified by the endangered status of this bird across Africa where it is present; as well as being part of Liberia’s “Birds of the World” series.
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The IGPC website does offer a few opportunities to explore what I have termed incongruous bird stamp issues. Some of these are reviewed in this article.
Inca Tern (Larosterna inca)
On 16 May 2019, Guyana issued a set of five stamps that celebrated the Inca Tern. Both the souvenir sheet, which features the $800 value; and the four stamps printed in a second sheet (with values of $100, $300, $500 and $700) are impressive in the design and quality of the photographic images. A worthy addition to the global catalogue of bird stamps, I would have thought.
But there is, of course, a clue in the title. The American Bird Conservancy website – where the Inca Tern featured as bird of the week back in 18 July 2014 – describes the usual habitat of this bird as being along the Western edge of South America, from Peru all the way down to Chile. Its territorial range doesn’t stray much beyond that coast. That is because its natural food source is in the cold waters of the Humboldt [or Peru] Current that flows northwards from the South Pacific Ocean up the Western coastline of South America.