Environment Forum

Mail a letter, save a tiger?

If the world gets saved one small act at a time, the U.S. Postal Service and the Wildlife Conservation Society may be onto something. They’ve just unveiled a new stamp that aims to make protection of endangered species as easy as mailing a letter.

The new Save Vanishing Species stamp costs 55 cents, 11 cents more than a regular first class stamp. It features the face of a tiger cub, and net proceeds contribute to projects supported by the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, which are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These projects work to conserve tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles and African and Asian elephants.

There is no impact on U.S. taxpayers, and it is the fourth so-called semipostal issue by the Postal Service.  The stamps should be available in September at post offices and at Wildlife Conservation Society parks.

The announcement is a victory for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which had fought for legislation to create such stamps and manages the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, including its flagship, the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

It’s been a good week for that well-known zoo overall. For the second time since March, a zoo animal went on walkabout before being safely recovered. This time it was a green and brown peahen (a female peafowl, the peacock’s counterpart) who — of course — had a designated Twitter feed while she was out on the town. She tweeted that she got some pointers from a Bronx Zoo cobra that had a celebrated period of freedom back in March and had a similarly popular Twitter feed.

On Antarctic safaris, remember to bring a microscope

Many people hope to come back from a wildlife safari with close-up pictures of lions or elephants – this picture below is my best attempt from a search for the largest land animals in Antarctica.

If you look hard you can see a reddish blob at the tip of the thumb — it’s Antarctica’s most aggressive land predator, an eight-legged mite known as Rhagidia.

Pete Convey, a biologist at the British Antarctic Survey (that’s his thumb), says that such tiny creatures evolved in Antarctica over tens of millions of years — they can freeze their bodies in winter in an extreme form of hibernation.

Good news for South American penguins

Half a million Magellanic penguins are among the critters to get protection in a new coastal marine park just established by Argentina.

It is the first protected area in Argentina specifically designed to safeguard not only onshore breeding colonies but also areas of ocean where wildlife feed at sea,” the Bronx-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said on Tuesday.

Researchers found that the area was in need of protection from increasing pressures by commercial fishing and the oil industry,” said WCS, which helped set up the park. Named the Golfo San Jorge marine park, it became official earlier this month.