News and press releases

  • Royal Mail Group
    12 April 2018
    Royal Mail marks successful introduction of British flora and fauna following extinction in the wild
  • Six stamps feature species that had become extinct or endangered in the UK but reintroduced
  • Featured are the: Eurasian Beaver; Pool Frog; Sand Lizard; Large Blue Butterfly; Osprey and Stinking Hawks-beard
  • Since the 1800s it is estimated that more than 400 species of animals and plants have become extinct in the UK
  • There have been several successful reintroduction programmes that have brought species back to their native lands  
  • The original colour illustrations were created by award winning, Wiltshire based artist, Tanya Achilleos Lock
  • The stamps are available to pre-order from today at www.royalmail.com/reintroducedspecies and from 7000 Post Offices nationwide from 17 April
Royal Mail today revealed a set of six stamps that celebrate the reintroduction of flora and fauna previously extinct or endangered in the UK. 
 
The stamps feature original illustrations by award winning, Wiltshire based artist, Tanya Achilleos Lock and show the: Eurasian Beaver; Pool Frog; Sand Lizard; Large Blue Butterfly; Osprey and Stinking Hawks-beard.
 
It is estimated that more than 400 species of animals and plants that have become extinct over the past two centuries in the UK. 
 
However, conservationists have successfully reintroduced various species across the country.
 
At the present time there are more than 900 native species in the UK classified as under threat, with others in significant decline. 
 
Royal Mail spokesperson, Philip Parker said: “When a plant or animal become extinct in a country, that does not have to be the end of the story. Our beautiful new stamps mark the skill and expertise of conservationists in reintroducing species back to their former environments.”
 
The stamps can be pre-ordered from today at www.royalmail.com/reintroducedspecies and available from 7000 Post Offices nationwide from 17 April.
 
STAMP-BY-STAMP
 
Osprey
After being persecuted 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 recolonisation 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 the 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. Ospreys also breed in the Lake District, Kielder Forest in Northumberland and in Wales.
 
Large Blue Butterfly
In 1979, it was declared that this fragile, beautiful 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. However, the success of its reintroduction has been immense. 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.
 
Eurasian Beaver
Eurasian 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’s 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. With the birth of several kits, the beaver population is growing. In England, Devon’s River Otter Beaver Trial began in 2015 and will conclude in 2020.
 
Pool Frog
The native UK status of the pool frog was debated over many years, but research into its genetics and ‘regional accent’ later proved that it had occurred naturally in at least two sites in East Anglia. By 1995, though, the species had disappeared. Damage to and loss of its Breckland and Fenland habitats due to agricultural intensification and drainage were cited as the principal causes of its demise. However, from 2005 to 2008, pool frogs from Sweden were reintroduced into a site in Norfolk whose habitat had been specially enhanced to improve the species’ chance of survival. The conservation efforts proved successful, as the pool frog population in this area has since grown and become well established.
 
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 at Dungeness in Kent until 1980. Seed from Dungeness was collected, stored and cultivated at the University of Cambridge, and has since been propagated and reintroduced to several nature reserves, in accordance with its very particular growth requirements – disturbed and well-drained ground in warm locations. 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.
 
Sand Lizard
Sand lizards approach the northern edge of their European range in the UK, resulting in some very specific habitat requirements. Sandy lowland heaths have been the species’ stronghold, but over the last century 80 per cent of these warm, dry, heather-covered areas 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 Surrey, and in protected dune systems on Merseyside, and have also been re-established at sites in North and West Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Kent and West Sussex.
 
 
Ends
 
ISSUED BY:
Royal Mail Press Office on 12 April 2018.
Natasha Ayivor
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0HQ
Tel: 020 7449 8250
Mobile: 07436 280 002
 
 
Notes to Editors:
 
About Royal Mail Special Stamps 
For more than 50 years, Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated anniversaries and celebrated events relevant to UK heritage and life. Today, there are an estimated 2.5 million stamp collectors and gift givers in the UK and millions worldwide. Her Majesty The Queen approves all UK stamp designs before they are issued.
 
About Royal Mail plc
Royal Mail plc is the parent company of Royal Mail Group Limited, the leading provider of postal and delivery services in the UK and the UK’s designated universal postal service provider. UK Parcels, International and Letters (“UKPIL”) comprises the company’s UK and international parcels and letters delivery businesses operating under the “Royal Mail” and “Parcelforce Worldwide” brands. Through the Royal Mail Core Network, the company delivers a one-price-goes-anywhere service on a range of parcels and letters products. Royal Mail has the capability to deliver to more than 29 million addresses in the UK, six days a week (excluding UK public holidays). Parcelforce Worldwide operates a separate UK network which collects and delivers express parcels. Royal Mail also owns General Logistics Systems (GLS) which operates one of the largest ground-based, deferred parcel delivery networks in Europe.