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Postage stamps celebrate wildlife reintroductions

Royal Mail has published stamps to acknowledge the return of six species to the UK.

The Eurasian beaver is one of the reintroduced species on the set of stamps © Tanya Achilleos Lock

The new set of wildlife stamps feature animals and plants that have been successfully reintroduced.

Wiltshire-based artist Tanya Achilleos Lock illustrated a pool frog, sand lizard, large blue butterfly, osprey, Eurasian beaver and stinking hawks-beard for the collection.

“When a plant or animal becomes extinct in a country, that does not have to be the end of the story,” says Royal Mail’s Philip Parker.

“Our beautiful new stamps mark the skill and expertise of conservationists in reintroducing species back to their former environments.”

It is estimated that more than 400 animal and plant species have gone extinct in the UK over the last 200 years.

There are more than 900 native UK species that are classified as under threat, with others in significant decline.

Back from the brink:

  • The osprey was declared an extinct breeding species in 1916, but has since been reintroduced to both Scotland and England with great success.

  • In 1979, the large blue butterfly was declared extinct, but in 2016, over 250,000 eggs were recorded at two nature reserves in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

  • Following UK extinction in the 16th century, the Eurasian beaver was successfully reintroduced into Scotland in 2009, and a reintroduction trial is currently underway in Devon.

  • The pool frog disappeared from the UK in 1995 due to damage and loss to its habitat. Between 2005 and 2008, pool frogs from Sweden were reintroduced into a site in Norfolk, which has proved highly successful.

  • The stinking hawk-eye flower, although never widespread in the UK, finally became officially extinct in 1980. However, seeds were collected and stored at Cambridge University and have since been planted in East Sussex and Dungeness with great success.

  • Over the past century, 80 per cent of warm, dry, heather-covered areas in the UK have been lost, which lead to the near extinction of the sand lizard. There have been more than 70 successful reintroductions, with more than 9,000 animals now living in protected heathland sites across the UK.

Tanya Achilleos Lock was the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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