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, bycatch prevention and reducing disturbance from marine noise.
Southern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes c. chrysocome
The Falkland Islands hold a significant proportion of the world population of this, the smallest of the Falkland’s penguins.
Historically the population has been in decline since the pre-1930’s levels, when it was estimated that at least 1 million rockhoppers populated the islands, but more recently there have been signs of recovery. Rockhoppers breed at 35 colonies in the Falklands, but the three major sites are Beauchene, Steeple and Grand Jason islands.
Rockhopper penguins are migratory, arriving in the islands to breed in early October and leaving by the end of April when they migrate northwards along the Patagonian Shelf. Some stay relatively close to their colony all year round, but one tracked penguin travelled 1,324 miles in 75 days.
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
The Sooty Shearwater, which migrates thousands of miles each year is a wonder of long-distance trans-equatorial migration. Leaving the Falklands by the end of April they fly north to their main staging and non-breeding areas in the North Atlantic. Migrating southwards they arrive back in the Falklands by early September to breed. In the Atlantic this migration is in excess of 8,700 miles.
It is an abundant shearwater breeding mainly on islands off New Zealand, Australia, Chile and the Falkland Islands where there are some 20,000 pairs.
This shearwater is identifiable by its dark plumage, which is responsible for its name. In poor viewing conditions, it looks all black, but in good light, it shows as dark chocolate-brown with a silvery strip along the centre of the underwing.
Falkland Islands Migratory Species is one of a complimentary suite of stamps being issued in 2018 by British Overseas Territories including Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and Tristan da Cunha.
Designer Andrew Robinson
Photography Alan Henry
Process Stochastic lithography
Perforation 3 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Stamp size 42 x 28mm
Sheet layout 20 (2 x 10 Se-tenant pairs)
Release date 18 October, 2018
Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd