CITES and postal stamps
Since 1993 the CITES Secretariat has worked with the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) to produce an annual series of 12 stamps of animals and plants included in the CITES Appendices. This series is published in Geneva, New York and Vienna, with special postmarks for first-day covers. The stamps are sold either individually or in a special booklet that contains information provided by the Secretariat on each of the species and provided in English, French and German.
Two factors gave rise to the idea of launching the Endangered Species series. First UNPA selects themes that reflect the activities of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Second stamps representing animals or plant species are traditionally popular amongst stamp collectors, many of whom will collect one animal in particular. It was decided from the onset to issue these series every year and 11 years on their popularity has not abated. "The Endangered Species stamps are one of the best-selling series of all those produced by the United Nations", said Mr Peter Torelli, Officer-in-Charge of UNPA at Geneva. Artists from all over the world are called upon every year to illustrate the species selected.
Stamps are popular with children and adults alike and stamp collecting is a widely spread hobby across the world, cultures and age groups. The Secretariat therefore believes that they are a good way of making the Convention more widely known outside the community of people traditionally involved in CITES. As a matter of fact, some Parties have followed suit and produced stamps illustrated with CITES species and bearing the CITES logo, such as Japan and Chile on the occasion of the eight and 12th meetings of the Conference of the Parties respectively, or Poland in 2001.
The Secretariat encourages other Parties to follow this example. Indeed, outside meetings of the Conference of the Parties, which receive quite a lot of media coverage, the general public can rarely read or hear about the Convention, and then often only in association with large Customs seizures or other events that may stress the illegal side of international wildlife trade. For that reason, and because of the wide range of people interested in stamps, the Secretariat believes that stamps can be a 'gentle' and positive way of making the Convention more widely known.