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British Antarctic Territory: Migratory Species

The globe is criss-crossed with borders and boundaries, designating
countries and states each with its own culture, identity and
regulations. However, these geopolitical borders were created by humans
for humans and animals follow their own geography, wonderfully oblivious
to the way we have divided up their world. Animals often require
different habitats and environmental conditions for mating, breeding and
feeding and so migrate between areas in order to find the resources they
need. Some migration routes are relatively short, perhaps just between
one side of a mountain range to another, but some species will travel
for thousands of miles. A wide range of animal groups make such mammoth
migrations; including birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates and reptiles.
Species which make these epic journeys have adapted to time their
movements in response to external and internal cues. External cues
include a range of environmental signals; including day length, local
climate and availability of food. While internal cues may include body
condition or the bodies internal, circadian, rhythms. Once they are
underway, animals may navigate with the aid of the sun, stars, magnetic
fields, winds, currents and even smell, however, the exact mechanisms
remain unknown in many animals. Whether by instinct or learned group
experience individuals can follow the same routes and return to
ancestral breeding and feeding grounds year on year.

Because of the large distances, the different habitats and the multiple
National borders through which they pass, conserving migratory species
presents a particular challenge. The first difficulty is tracking
species to find out where they actually go. The advent of modern
satellite tracking devices has made this a little easier but even then
attaching a tag to wild animals, sensitive to human disturbance, is not
always straightforward. Even once a migration route is known, countries
along that route need to agree shared conservation goals and enact them
under their local policies and procedures. If a conservation threat
persists at just one step along the way, the species is put in jeopardy
so it is imperative that nations work together.

To help facilitate the conservation of migratory species, a number of
global platforms exist including the Convention on Migratory Species
(CMS), which is an environmental treaty under the umbrella of the United
Nations Environment Programme. First signed in Bonn in 1983, this year
the Convention celebrates its 35th anniversary. Outside of formal
agreements like the CMS, countries work together through a variety of
conservation programmes and non-governmental organisations. Conservation
initiatives that benefit migratory species include promoting sustainable
habitat conservation, policing illegal trade, by-catch prevention and
reducing disturbance from marine noise.

Antarctic Fur Seals Arctocephalus gazella

Antarctic fur seals are eared seals similar to sea lions in that they
can walk on their flippers when on land. At the turn of the 19th century
they were hunted to near extinction for their highly prized dense fur.
Over the last 100 years they have made a remarkable recovery to number
in the millions although they are now vulnerable to the climatic changes
being seen in the Antarctic. Ninety-five percent of the world’s
population are found on South Georgia where they come ashore to breed.
Females give birth in December and then spend the summer months
alternating trips to sea to feed, with time spent on land suckling their
pups. In contrast, tracking by the British Antarctic Survey has shown
that males, after mating in December, migrate southwards to the edge of
the sea ice and the Antarctic continent to recover after spending
several weeks fasting while fighting for territories and access to
females. One individual reached Adelaide Island on the Antarctic
Peninsula a trip of over 1,500 miles. In April, after their pups have
weaned, females disperse at sea during the winter months and have been
tracked as far north as the coast of Brazil.

Leopard Seals Hydrurga leptonyx

With their large mouths and impressive teeth leopard seals have a
reputation as fearsome hunters reaching lengths of 3.5m and weighing up
to 600kg. While they are one of the top predators in the Antarctic,
feeding on penguins, fish and young seals, the majority of their diet is
actually made up of Antarctic krill. They typically breed and feed
within the sea ice region surrounding the Antarctic Continent but,
research by the British Antarctic Survey has shown that during the
colder winter months, a proportion migrate northwards to Sub-Antarctic
islands such as South Georgia. Indeed they are occasionally seen further
north around the Falkland Islands, Australia and Patagonia. They are
very vocal animals and ‘sing’ producing deep booming sounds coupled with
high pitched trills that are believed to be related to breeding.
Individuals can be identified from their song patterns and also using
the unique pattern of spots on their fur, from which they get their name.

British Antarctic Territory Migratory Species is one of a complimentary
suite of stamps being issued in 2018 by British Overseas Territories
including Ascension Island, Falkland Islands,South Georgia and South
Sandwich Islands and Tristan da Cunha.

4 value issue 66p, 76p, £1.22, £1.50

Technical Details

Designer Andrew Robinson

Printer Cartor Security Printing

Process Stochastic lithography

Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms

Stamp size 42 x 28mm

Sheet layout 20 (2 x 10 Se-tenant pairs)

Release date Expected November 2018

Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd

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