Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Portugal 2016 - Mammalian Predators

ISSUE DATE: 7 June 2016
STAMP THEME: Mammalian Predators
STAMP SIZE:30.6 x 40 mm
ILLUSTRATIONS: Lobo (Canis lupus) - Pedro Salvador
Raposa (Vulpes vulpes) - Fernando Correia
Gato-bravo (Felis silvestris) - Nuno Farinha
Gineta (Genetta genetta) - Jose Projecto
Lontra (Lutra lutra) - Pedro Salgado
Texugo (Meles meles) - Marco Correia

Mamalian predators - Visions through a look.
There are 14 species of terrestrial carnivorous mammals in Portugal. In general, most are ubiquitous and generic, such as foxes or genets, living in different habitats (from urban areas to the mountains). Others, like the Egyptian mongoose, may be considered forest carnivores (inhabiting the forests or marginal scrubland) and some are climbers/arboreal (wildcats, genets). 

While the badger is a burrower, the otter is a semiaquatic animal, present in flowing fresh water. The wolf, a superpredator (hunting other predators), is the one that is best suited to this mosaic of habitats. Joining this seemingly disparate set of animals is the fact that all of them hunt immersed in a fantastic and hidden world of smells and sounds, mostly imperceptible to human beings.

This issue of stamps thus intends to present some of the most iconic Portuguese predators... and "intends" is the correct term, because it goes well beyond the simple "intention", or validation, of the service provided by CTT Correios de Portugal. "Intending" to go further was ambitiously sought; it marks the series of four main pillars, or visions:

"Intending" as in directing our attention to the appreciation of the stamp and its aesthetic quality and, simultaneously, to seek to raise awareness of the important role that these species play (ecosystems regulators by controlling populations of prey; prey evolution drivers, since they prefer to feed on the weak, sick or injured; seed dispersers, as the fruits come to constitute more than 40% of the diets of some animals such as foxes and badgers, etc.);

"Intending" as in focusing our attention and wanting it to be provocative, to look and feel that the animal depicted returns our look with intense directness, so that we see its right to exist;

"Intending" as in targeting or pinpointing elimination strategies so that these stamps also take an activist character, promoting awareness to reduce human pressure, a direct threat to the viability of populations of these creatures;

Finally, "intending" as in having the intention that each mammal be drawn by a different illustrator, so that this diversity and these bio-ecological differences meet parity, also echoed in the diversity of Portuguese illustrators and the very personal way in which they made their drawings, in healthy coexistence in the same space and exploiting the same resources — humans and carnivores, scientists and artists, scientific illustrators and naturalist painters, etc. 

An attempt was thus made, not only to inform and appeal to the aesthetic in a fascinating way, but also to call attention to the role of arousing greater inspiration to better promote the conservation and sustainability of these splendid animals which are much needed. After all, it is in this biosphere where we live, in this "Noah's Ark" named Earth, that we are increasingly aware that it all comes down to an intricate web of relationships where everyone depends on everyone else.

author: Fernando I. S. Correia
Director of the Scientific Illustration Laboratory Deportment of Biology, University of Aveiro


Stamp images thanks to CTT Correios de Portugal

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