The Tree-dwellers of the Tropics stamp issue depicts Australia’s largest tree-climbing mammal, the Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, the Lemuroid Ringtail Possum which is only found in the Wet Tropics of Queensland, and the Spectacled Flying-fox.
Australia Post consulted with experts from the Wet Tropics Management Authority to develop the stamp designs.
The designs, which have been illustrated by renowned wildlife artist Kevin Stead, offer a glimpse of some of the more reclusive residents of the Wet Tropics.
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area covers almost 9000 km2 extending from west of Townsville to just south of Cooktown. It is the most biodiverse part of Australia – with some 3,300 plant species, 40 percent of Australia’s bird species and 60 percent of Australia’s butterfly species. It is also a dynamic, living cultural landscape and is home to at least 20 distinct Rainforest Aboriginal Traditional Owner groups.
The Authority, formed in 1992, fulfils Australia’s international obligation to protect, conserve and present the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area to current and future generations.
Senior Project Officer for the Authority, Terry Carmichael, said the stamp set was a great tool to help shine a light on some of the Wet Tropics’ incredible creatures and the threats they face to their continued existence.
“It is fantastic to see the Wet Tropics unique animals getting some exposure. I am sure many Australians would not know we have tree-kangaroos and stunning white lemuroid possums living in the tops of giant rainforest trees in northern Australia,” he said.
Mr Carmichael said tree-kangaroos have an interesting back-story.
“The current thinking is kangaroos and wallabies evolved from a tree-climbing, possum-like animal,” he said. “Tree kangaroos reversed the family trend and went back into the trees. Tropical rainforests have vast quantities of leaves to eat and tree-kangaroos developed techniques for life in the trees.”
Mr Carmichael said the Lemuroid Ringtail Possum is only found in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
“They are generally a charcoal brown colour, but certain individuals are a beautiful, creamy white, with touches of orange on the shoulders,” he said.
Mr Carmichael said that this “white phase” Lemuroid Ringtail Possum was used as the poster child for conservationists during the campaign to get the Wet Tropics nominated for World Heritage listing in the 1980s.
The third tree dweller to be featured is the Spectacled Flying Fox.
Mr Carmichael said that while flying foxes get a lot of bad press, the Spectacled Flying-fox played an essential role in the eco-system by pollinating trees, shrubs and vines and dispersing their seeds.
“Flying foxes are the gardeners and farmers of the Wet Tropics rainforests…. Flying foxes are delightful, intelligent and fascinating animals that deserve a break from us humans,” he said.
“In Australia we take a lot of our living national heritage for granted. These stamps will help raise the level of consciousness of these incredible animals in the minds of Australians.”
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The Tree-dwellers of the Tropics stamp issue is available from 21 January 2020, online, at participating Post Offices and via mail order on 1800 331 794 (+61 3 9887 0033 from overseas), while stocks last.