Tuesday, June 11, 2024

New philately phocus - pangolins

On Saturday 8th June I went to the annual general meeting of the British Thematic Assocation - the stamp collecting organisation I've belonged to for almost 15 years now. It was held in Swindon at an annual stamp fair called Swinpex, attended by several stamp traders and collectors.

Along with the usual AGM business, I saw a presentation about Sudan - in this case, not  the country! Sudan was the last known male Northern White Rhino whose death heralded the practical extinction of his species. The presenter, Jan, used a range of philatelic material to tell Sudan's personal story (he spent most of his life in Czechoslovakia after being captured as a calf in Sudan) and the story of how his species was hunted into extinction. 

This inspired me to make good on an idea I had to develop a presentation about a creature I've developed a fondness for - pangolins. I visited a dealer's stall and found some nice, inexpensive stamps to start a new collection. 

Pangolins are the only mammals with scales. They are also the world's most trafficked animal because their scales are used in "traditional medicine". Poaching levels are therefore high and pangolins are endangered as a result.

This sheet of stamps from Macau shows the Asian pangolin, which tends to be a tree-dweller. The pictures include a pangolin using its prehensile tail to hang off a tree branch.

The other stamps were from a mix of African countries and show the ground-dwelling pangolins that live on that continent. 

Rio Muni was the name given to Equatorial Guinea when it was a Spanish colony. The stamps show a chameleon and a pangolin. The other small set was used across French West Africa when they were colonies too. The Tanzania sheet includes a rhino on one stamp and a giant ground pangolin, that walks on its hind legs. 

I bought the nocturnal animals sheet because that's an important aspect of pangolin life. And Namibia is another country where pangolins live. (Also it had cool hexagonal stamps.)

I'm going to try and acquire some more stamps that explain a bit more about these fascinating creatures. 

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