South Africa has a wealth of birds and these are featured on our postage stamps from time to time. Today’s pick from my box of unsorted stamps are these:

Starting from the top left is a Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus). The largest crane in Africa, the Wattled Crane is classified as being critically endangered in this country with only just over 200 hundred individuals left. Other populations of Wattled Crane survive in neighbouring Botswana and nearby Zambia. They are wetland-dependent birds and suffer from the loss of their preferred habitat as a result of activities such as mining, forestry, agriculture, draining/damming of wetlands, and the expansion of industry.  Wattled Cranes have also been killed or injured when flying into overhead powerlines.

This stamp was issued in 1998 – from the redrawn 6th definitive series.

Centre in the top row is a Jackass Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), likewise from the redrawn 6th definitive series. These days it is known as the African Penguin – the former common name referred to the braying sound it makes, which is very similar to that of a donkey. These birds are endemic to the coastline of South Africa.

According to these birds have “experienced rapid population declines over the past century as a result of overexploitation for food, habitat modification of nesting sites, oil spillages, and competition for food resources with commercial fishing. As a result it is classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List and it is listed under Appendix II of the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). In South Africa, it is further listed as a protected species under the National Environment Management: Biodiversity Act (No. 10 of 2004).”

The stamp on the top right depicts a Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus). These are commonly seen in the Kruger National Park where they are frequently seen perched on a branch while on the lookout for grasshoppers or beetles. They also sometimes eat lizards or even crabs. These birds prefer open woodland or grassland with scattered trees. This stamp, designed by Chris van Rooyen was printed in 2000.

The bottom row of stamps show the White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) from the same series of stamps printed in 2000.

These are sociable birds that nest in small colonies of 40 – 80 birds, usually in sandy banks where they make holes for their nest. As the name implies, they mainly eat bees although other flying insects do not go amiss.


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