British mammals feature on the new set of stamps released by Royal Mail today. This is the fourth of the Action for Species stamp issues focusing on endangered native animals and plants; previous issues have covered Birds (2007), Insects (2008) and Plants (2009).
The British Isles is home to more than 60 species of mammals, but almost half of these have been introduced from elsewhere in the world, including some of the most abundant, like the rabbit and the grey squirrel.
All ten of the mammals featured on the new stamps, including the seemingly prevalent hedgehog, are the subject of conservation programmes due to the effect of adverse changes in their environment. These are caused by pollution, the growth in roads and housing developments, and in some cases, the introduction of non-native species, which have all contributed to a fall in numbers.
Because the UK has comparatively few land mammals, the selection criteria for these stamps was extended to include marine mammals, like the Humpback Whale, that spends part of its life cycle in UK territorial waters.
Royal Mail has long highlighted British animals on their stamps. The British Wildlife commemoratives of 1977, designed by Patrick Oxenham, featured the hedgehog, brown hare, red squirrel, otter and badger. So popular were Oxenham’s designs that they were later made available as fine art prints.
In 1986, Nature Conservation was theme of that year’s Europa issues. Britain’s stamps, designed by wildlife artist Ken Lilly, featured the barn owl, pine marten, wildcat and natterjack toad.
In 1998 Royal Mail released a set of Endangered Species stamps, highlighting endangered flora and fauna. The stamps were designed by Robert Maude, who four years later designed the London’s Bridges stamps with Sarah Davies. The common dormouse was the only mammal to appear on the set.
The striking work of Kate Stephens was featured on the 2004 stamp issue Woodland Animals. 10 mammals are on the set, including the endangered wildcat.
The Mammals stamps are now available from Royal Mail.