Stamp Out Extinction with the Save Vanishing Species Stamp
By Tracy O’Toole and Earl Possardt
What’s the connection between marine turtle grants and postage stamps? In this time of increased need for support of sea turtle conservation, Americans can now easily help turtles and many other much-loved species … by simply buying a postage stamp.
Thanks to the Conservation Community Multinational Species Coalition and bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, the Save Vanishing Species Stamp Act was signed into law by President Obama on September 30, 2010, and was launched by the U.S. Postal Service on September 20, 2011. In the 164-year history of the Postal Service, it is the first U.S. postage stamp with the express purpose of generating revenue for international wildlife conservation. Proceeds from the sale of the stamps will directly benefit the Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation (MSC) Funds administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The five MSC Funds enacted by Congress channel support to key initiatives for African elephants (enacted in 1988), rhinoceroses and tigers (1994), Asian elephants (1998), great apes (2000), and marine turtles (2004).
The Save Vanishing Species stamp is now available at post offices across the United States, giving the public an easy and inexpensive way to help conserve the endangered species. Each stamp costs 55 cents, just slightly above the cost of first-class postage (44 cents). By purchasing the stamps, which feature the image of an Amur tiger cub, the public can directly contribute to the on-the-ground conservation programs overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders programs.
Since 1989, the Wildlife Without Borders program has awarded more than 2,500 grants providing vital funding for community-based efforts to protect wildlife as well as traditional actions such as anti-poaching patrols, population monitoring, and research. For sea turtles alone, the Marine Turtle Conservation Act (MTCA) has funded 183 grants totaling US$7,105,000 since 2005. Those funds support carefully focused, cost-effective, on-the-ground conservation programs for the target species.
The Wildlife Without Borders’ 2011 MTCA grants have focused primarily on priority sea turtle populations identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Marine Turtle Specialist Group Burning Issues process. MTCA grants have focused on (a) East Atlantic leatherbacks in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone; (b) East and West Pacific leatherbacks in Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vietnam; (c) Caribbean and East Pacific hawksbills in Barbados, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama; (d) olive ridley arribada populations in Costa Rica, India, Nicaragua, and Panama; and (e) loggerhead populations in Cape Verde, Japan, Mexico, and Oman.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looks forward to its 2012 grant-making cycles for marine turtle projects and is optimistic that the new Save Vanishing Species stamp will make a significant contribution to support even more on-the-ground projects. To learn more about the Wildlife Without Borders MSC Funds and the Save Vanishing Species stamp, visit www.fws.gov/international/semipostal or http://Tigerstamp.com.
This article originally appeared in SWOT Report, vol. 7 (2012). Click here to download the entire article as a PDF.