Here in the UK, we have a long history of nature conservancy and this is evident in our desire to introduce species that have disappeared from our natural environment.
Some of these species were hunted out of their habitats and others displaced due to development or changes in farming and land use.
Their successful reintroduction is celebrated in this new set of stamps and whilst you may be aware of some of the more high profile species such as the Osprey you may learn about some lesser known ones like the Large Blue Butterfly.
Issue Date: 17th April 2018
1st Class: Osprey After being persecuted by gamekeepers and losing eggs to collectors, in 1916 ospreys were recorded as an extinct breeding species in Scotland, almost 70 years after their disappearance from England. Their natural recolonization of Scotland in the 1950s led to a slow growth in population, but with a limited spread—the males usually returning to breed close to where they hatched. By the mid-1990s, there were around 100 pairs in the UK, mainly in then Highlands. In 1996, 64 young birds from the Highlands were trans-located to Rutland Water in England and by 2001 some had returned from migration to rear young in England for the first time in 150 years.
1st Class: Large Blue Butterfly In 1979, it was declared that the large blue butterfly had become extinct in the UK., its last site being Dartmoor in Devon The species would become an important icon for extinction, its demise leading to a robust reintroduction programme—one destined to be far from straightforward due to an elaborate life cycle, its larvae feeding on the grubs of a single species of red ant, making the ants as much a focus of conservation as the butterfly. By 2006, an estimated 10,000 eggs were laid across 11 sites in south-west England. Ten years later, it was recorded that over 250,000 eggs had been laid on wild marjoram and wild thyme plants at two reserves in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
£1.45: Eurasion Beaver Eurasion beavers were once widespread across Europe but were hunted to near extinction for their fur, meat and castoreum (a secretion from the base of their tails that was used in the perfume trade). The species disappeared from England, Wales and Scotland by the 16th century, but since then, Europe’ largest native rodent has been successfully reintroduced over most of the continent. In the UK, beavers were released into Knapdale Forest, Argyll, in 2009 as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial, which concluded in 2014 while in England, Devon’s River Otter Beaver Trail began in 2015 and will conclude in 2020.
£1.45: Pool Frog The native UK status of the pool frog was debated over many years, but research into its genetics and ‘regional accent’ proved that it had occurred naturally in at least two sites in East Anglia. By 1995, the pool frog had disappeared from the UK due to the loss of its east Anglian habitats. However, from 2005 to 2008, pool frogs from Sweden were reintroduced into a site in Norfolk, whose habitat had been specially enhanced in improve the species’ chance of survival. The conservation efforts [roved successful, as the pool frog population in this area has since grown and become well established.
£1.55: Stinking Hawk’s-Beard This ‘dandelionesque’ plant has never had a common UK presence, being limited to the coastal shingle of Kent and Essex, and scattered inland sites mainly in south-east England, on chalk and sandy soils. Most populations were lost in the early 1900s, persisting only Dungeness in Kent until 1980. Despite some early failures—not least because rabbits enjoy consuming it—there is now a large reintroduced population at Rye Harbour in East Sussex, and another has been rediscovered at Dungeness
£1.55: Sand Lizard Over the last 100 years, 80% of the sand lizard’s habitat—sandy heaths and sand dunes—have been lost, which resulted in colonies of this species becoming isolated, vulnerable and fewer in number. Fortunately, with more than 70 successful reintroductions of over 9,000 lizards, captive breeding has helped to end their decline. They now live in protected heathland sites in Dorset, Hampshire and Surry, and in protected dune systems on Merseyside; they have also been re-established at sites in North and West Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Kent and West Sussex.
More about the artist Tanya Achilleos Lock
Tanya Lock, the artist of the Reintroduced Species issue, was born in New Zealand where her interest in natural history, particularly in birds first started.
Tanya started painting realism art, focusing on wildlife, where she went on to win a number of awards and has had her art shown in a number of international exhibitions. In her spare time, Tanya has supported organisations such as Traffic, the arm of the WWF, monitoring the trade in endangered species.
Tanya also loves to travel; she recently travelled to arguably the best zoo in the world, San Diego, but when she returned, she discovered some of the birds she wanted to paint sitting on her local river, in Bradford-on-Avon.
Did you know?
- The lifespan of a pool frog ranges between 6 years and 12 years.
- The Eurasian Beaver only has webbed feet on the back, and not on the front. They also mate for life and the pairs seem to work as a team to survive and to care for their young.
- Butterflies have taste receptors on their feet to help them find their host plants and locate food.
- Young Ospreys remain in West Africa until they are three years old when they fly north for the first time.
- A sand lizard can reach 5 to 7.8 inches in length and can detach its tail from the rest of the body to escape from predators.
- Stinking Hawk’s beard grows up to 60cm (usually 40cm max in the UK), and only lives/grows for just one year.