SA issues butterfly stamps

2013-05-16 08:51
A colony of Wolkberg butterflies has been found. (Andre Coetzer)

A colony of Wolkberg butterflies has been found. (Andre Coetzer)

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Cape Town - If you visit your local post office early on Thursday, you will be among the first in the country to get your hands on a Table Mountain Beauty or a Wolkberg Zulu, or both.

These are two of the butterfly species which occur in South Africa, and are depicted - along with eight other members of the Lepidoptera order of insects, which includes moths - on the latest stamps issued by the postal authority.

The limited-edition issue consists of a sheet of 10 stamps, each depicting a different butterfly or moth, and two first-day covers of five stamps, franked 16 May.

The SA Post Office said the stamps were being issued in recognition of the country's rich variety of Lepidoptera.

"We are thrilled that we can display these majestic creatures on our national stamps," said post office philatelic services senior manager Johan van Wyk.

Extinct

According to a fact sheet issued with the stamps, the Table Mountain Beauty (Aeropetes tulbaghia) has a far wider range than its name suggests. Endemic to South Africa, this butterfly is found in mountain ranges "from Cape Town to the Soutpansberg".

The Wolkberg Zulu (Alaena margaritacea) does not, as the common name also suggests, occur in KwaZulu-Natal. There are only two known colonies on "grassy slopes in the Haenertsburg area near the Wolkberg in Limpopo".

Another rare butterfly depicted is the Waterberg Copper (Erikssonia edgei). Thought to have become extinct, it was rediscovered in early March this year on a private nature reserve in Limpopo. It was last seen in the 1980s.

Of the about 670 known butterfly species in SA, two have become extinct, three are listed as critically endangered, six are endangered, and 29 are described as "vulnerable".

The SA Post Office has printed 70 000 sets of the stamps. These and the two first-day covers, are available at post offices countrywide from Thursday.
- SAPA
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