United Nations issues stamps featuring newly listed CITES species

Updated on 11 May 2017

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United Nations issues stamps featuring newly listed CITES species

Stamps featuring devil rays and thresher sharks are reminders of the historic decisions made at CITES CoP17

Geneva, 11 May 2017: The United Nations Postal Administration issued 12stamps today to feature 12 species that were put under the international trade control regime following decisions made at the 17th meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), known as CITES CoP17 or the World Wildlife Conference (Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 September - 4 October 2016). The CITES Secretariat was represented at today’s first day of issue event held in Essen, Germany.



The 12 stamps illustrate a wide range of taxonomic groups, from marine molluscs, fishes, reptiles to an amphibian, a mammal, a small flowering plant and a large tree. They are found in different parts of the world, and occur in forests, oceans, mountains, steppes and deserts. Some species are iconic and readily recognizable such as sharks, nautilus and baobab trees, while others look less familiar. The species chosen for this stamp collection thereby exemplify the truly global character of the work of CITES and the biodiversity it protects through regulating international trade in the species.

Commenting on this special edition of the UN Endangered Species Stamps, CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon, said: “This year is the first time that the UN Endangered Species Stamps feature species that have been newly added to the CITES Appendices. Among the species depicted on these beautiful stamps, the devil rays and thresher sharks are wonderful reminders of the truly historic decisions made at CITES CoP17 to provide international legal protection to so many amazing species of wild animals and plants. We are deeply grateful for UNPA’s longstanding efforts to help raise awareness of the plight and conservation needs of endangered species.”

Mr. Thanawat Amnajanan, Chief of the United Nations Postal Administration, said: “The UNPA has been working with CITES for the past 24 years to issue stamps highlighting the need for protection of the world's flora and fauna. For this year's issue, the UNPA is pleased to add to our Endangered Species stamp series, twelve out of the many new species that have recently been added to CITES Appendices as a result of the CoP17 World Wildlife Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa last year. The UNPA values the support from CITES and will continue to raise awareness about the protection of endangered species through philatelic means."   

The UN Postal Administration has been showcasing CITES-listed species to the world with the UN Endangered Species Stamps for nearly a quarter of a century since 3 March 1993 when it issued 12 stamps to mark the 20th anniversary of CITES.

Here are some quick facts about the species depicted on the stamps:

Masobe gecko (Paroedura masobe)

This alien-looking Masobe gecko is a nocturnal species, endemic to the forest in eastern Madagascar.

In addition to habitat loss and degradation due to forest conversion into agricultural land, a major threat to the Masobe gecko is unregulated collection from the wild for the international pet trade since it is considered a very attractive and iconic species.

Thresher sharks (Alopias spp.)           

Thresher sharks are highly migratory pelagic predators. They can be most easily identified by their long tail fin which they use to stun their prey.

The low reproductive rate of the thresher sharks makes them among the most vulnerable to overfishing of all shark species, as target or bycatch species, taken for their fins which are valuable in international markets.

Clarion angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis)

The clarion angelfish is a brightly coloured marine fish found predominantly in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico. Their habitats are coral and rocky reefs.

The very bright colours of the Clarion angelfish make them an attractive ornamental aquarium fish. Its low overall population numbers, restricted range, climate change and unregulated international trade are the main threats to their survival.

Blaine's pincushion (Sclerocactus blainei)

The Blaine’s pincushion, also known as Blaine’s fishhook cactus, is an endemic species to the United States of America.

These perennial cacti can reach up to 45 cm tall and 10 cm wide. They are exceptionally cold and drought tolerant.

Green burrowing frog (Scaphiophryne marmorata)

The green burrowing frog is only found in rain forests in the eastern part of Madagascar, and is named after its symmetrical green coloration and burrowing behaviour.

While the biggest threat to this species is habitat loss, unregulated harvesting for the international pet trade is considered a further threat.

Devil rays (Mobula spp.)

Devil rays are slow-growing, large-bodied and migratory animals with small and highly fragmented populations that are sparsely distributed worldwide across the tropical and temperate waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Mobula species have among the lowest fertility rate of all sharks as they give birth to a single pup every two to three years. Increasing international trade in valuable devil ray gill plates has led to unsustainable fisheries.

Pygmy chameleons (Rhampholeon spp.)

Pygmy chameleons occur in continental African countries, and the majority of them are restricted to wet equatorial forests.

All pygmy chameleons have a low reproduction rate. Habitat loss and the unregulated international pet trade have affected the populations of African pygmy chameleons.

Grandidier's baobab (Adansonia grandidieri)

The Grandidier's baobab is an endemic Malagasy baobab species. It can reach 30m in height and has a very thick trunk.

The species has been under pressure from continuous and massive exploitation for its fruits, seeds and seed oil traded both domestically and internationally.

Turquoise dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi)

The Turquoise dwarf gecko is a small lizard that only occurs in a few isolated patches of forest in eastern Tanzania. Adult males are turquoise-blue on the upper side, as shown on the stamp. Females and immature males are greenish-bronze.

The striking blue colouration of the males makes the species highly attractive for the pet trade which, when not regulated, can be a significant threat for this species.

Nautilus (Nautilidae spp.)

Nautiluses are marine mollusks native to tropical, coastal reef, deep-water habitats of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Highly recognizable by their coiled external, calcium carbonate shell, Nautilidae spp. are the last living representatives of multi-chambered, externally-shelled cephalopods that appeared at least 450 million years ago.

Threats to the Nautilus species include habitat degradation, destructive fishing practices and unregulated exploitation for the curio trade.

Natal ginger (Siphonochilus aethiopicus)

Natal ginger is found in seasonally dry woodlands in tropical and subtropical Africa. Its spectacular flowers are short lived. The plant occasionally produces small fruits close to ground level.

Although habitat loss is a factor, large-scale regional commercial exploitation of Natal ginger from wild populations to supply the herbal medicine trade is the most significant threat in Southern Africa.

Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica)                       

The Tur is a wild goat native to the Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Russian Federation. Male Turs are much larger and heavier than females.

Turs are hunted, sometimes unsustainably, as trophies as well as for local consumption. Other threats include loss and degradation of habitat, severe winters and competition with livestock.

How to order:

To purchase these stamps, as well as other UNPA products, please visit unstamps.org.  You can also visit the UNPA stamp shops in New York, Geneva and Vienna or follow UNPA on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Note to editors:

For more information, contact Liu Yuan at +41 79 652 0108 or [email protected].


With 183 Parties, CITES remains one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, housing, health care, ecotourism, cosmetics or fashion.

CITES regulates international trade in over 36,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

CITES was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975.

Learn more about CITES by visiting www.cites.org or connecting to:

  • www.twitter.com/CITES
  • www.facebook.com/CITES
  • www.youtube.com/c/CITES
  • www.flickr.com/CITES