Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fauna & Flora 2013

The Mauritius Post Ltd. released on 30 August 2013 a set of three commemorative stamps on the theme 'Fauna & Flora'. The Rs3 stamp depicts the rarest palm in the world, Hyophorbe amaricaulis, and the Rs10 and Rs18 stamps a species of orchid (Oeoniella polystachys) and one of bird (Phedina borbonica) that can be found in the Bras D'Eau National Park.



Rs3 - Hurricane Palm (Hyophorbe amaricaulis)




Unique to the island of Mauritius, Hyophorbe amaricaulis, commonly know as Hurricane Palm or the Loneliest Palm is classified as 'Critically Endangered' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

It was first collected by Philibert Commerson around 1770. It is today the rarest palm in the world, known from a single specimen that survived the transformation of a patch of native forest into a botanical garden in Curepipe.

Little hope of discovering other individuals exists as most of the original wet forest habitat of this conspicuous species has been destroyed.

The lonely plant cannot reproduce naturally since it produces female and male flowers at different times. In vitro propagation was tried in Mauritius (late 1990's/ early 2000's), which did not pass the stage of callus.

Attempts in Ireland (1980's) and in England (2008) produced a handful of plantlets, which died after transplantation. Therefore, the only hope to save the species from extinction seems to reside in cloning.

Rs10 - Orchid (Oeoniella polystachys)



In Mauritius, this species was initially considered to be synonymous with Oeoniella aphrodite, but its inflorescence and flower structure are different from the latter.

Oeoniella polystachys is endemic to the south western Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Réunion, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles, bearing white flowers of about 2-3 cm across, blooming for about a month from late July to late November.

It is a common species in Madagascar, occurring mostly on the east coast. In Réunion, it is found in the northern dry forests, where its population is declining.

In Mauritius, the best population is found on Ile aux Aigrettes, and in Bras D'eau.  Scattered plants exist at Mountain Chat, La Nicolière and Bambous Mountain Range and Ferney (between Mountain Camizard to Mountain Lion)

Rs18 - Mascarene Swallow (Phedina borbonica)



The Mascarene Swallow, also known as the Mascarene Martin and the 'grosse hirondelle' in French, is a rare bird with a total population of less than 500 pairs in Mauritius.

The Mascarene Swallow nests singly or in small loose colonies of up to 20 nests in cavities which provide a flat ledge, or behind a tuft of vegetation.

The Mascarene Swallow is a stoutly built, brown bird with fast, powerful, swooping flight interspersed with fluttering.

The upper parts are earth-brown; under parts are much paler, with dark streaks. It is commonly confused with the Mascarene Cave Swiftlet (Aerodramus francicus) which is smaller, has longer and narrower wings, is blackish-brown rather than earth-brown upper parts and has a paler rump-patch.

In Mauritius, the Mascarene Swallow is found from sea level to the highest point, but is unevenly distributed with known colonies in the the west and south, and is occasionally recorded in the east of the island. The bird feeds over built-up areas, lakes, reservoirs, around cliffs, filao (Casuarina species) belts, and shorelines.

It is often seen perching on electric wires, trees, ground or shoreline sand and rocks.

The Mascarene Swallow catches insects such as beetles, bugs, flies, wasps and ants in flight.

Nests may be built on sheltered ledges of buildings and bridges, or in cliffs, caves or banks, often above water, and has been recorded breeding on boats moored in the Black River Bay.

The nest is an open platform or saucer resting on a flat base, and is made out of plant fibres such as Casuarina needles, rough grass, small twigs, dead steams or algae, lined with feathers or fine plant material. Two white and lightly spotted brown eggs are laid between September and December.

The Mascarene Swallow population might be increasing, but it is still considered rare.

Unofficial FDC sent by express delivery from Monneron Hill Post Office.

The Bras D'Eau National Park 


The Bras D'Eau National Park was proclaimed on 25 October 2011 under section 11(1) of the Wildlife adn National Parks Act 1993.

It is of an area of 497.2 ha and is mainly under Mahogany, Araucaria, Tecoma and Eucalyptus plantations. It also harbours patches of native vegetation.

It is one of the last remnants of the coastal lowland dry dwarf forest. It is the habitat for 10 species of butterfly and is well-known for its population of birds.

The Bras D'Eau National Park also has a thriving mangrove forest.


Source: FDC insert.

Technical details:


Date of issue: 30 August 2013
Illustration
 Rs3 - Hurricane Palm (Hyophorbe amaricaulis)
 Rs10 - Orchid (Oeoniella polystachys)
 Rs18 - Mascarene Swallow (Phedina borbonica)
Graphic works: Neshvin Ramsawmy
Size:  29.94 x 44.45 mm
Printer: BDT International Security Printing Ltd., Dublin
Process: Lithography
Number per sheet: 50 stamps set in two panes of 25 separated by gutter
Watermark: w18 - CASCO
Perforation: 14 x 2 cm
Courtesy:
 Mauritius Herbarium
 Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
 BirdLife International

Thursday, September 24, 2015

63rd FIFA Congress Mauritius 2013

The Mauritius Post released on 30 May 2013 a new stamp on the occasion of the 63rd FIFA Congress held in Mauritius on 30 and 31 May 2013.


Some 1000 delegates from 209 member associations and journalists from international newspapers and magazines attended this international congress presided by Joseph Blatter, the President of the "Fédération Internationale de Football" (FIFA).

FIFA was founded in 1904 and is based in Zurich; it has 209 member associations, employs some 400 people from over 40 nations and is composed of a Congress (legislative body), an Executive Committee (executive body) and General Secretariat (administrative body). The FIFA World Cup provides the finances and momentum to sustain FIFA's wider mission to 'develop the game, touch the world and build a better future'.



In Mauritius, the governing body of football is the Mauritius Football Association (MFA), founded in 1952 and affiliated to FIFA in 1962. It is currently the largest sports federation in Mauritius with 11,000 registered footballers.


Source: FDC insert

Technical details:


Date of issue: 30 May 2013
Illustration: Rs18 - Logo of the 63rd Congress
Design: FIFA
Graphic works (stamps & FDC): Neshvin Ramsawmy
Size:  29.94  44.45 mm
Printer: BDT International Security Printing Ltd., Dublin
Process: Litography
Number per sheet: 50 stamps set in two panes of 25 separated by a gutter
Watermark: w18 - CASCO
Perforation: 14 x 2 cm
Courtesy: The Mauritius Football Association and FIFA

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Maurice Ile Durable & 150th Anniversary of Red Cross

The Mauritius Post released on 30 May 2013 two stamps on the theme "Maurice Ile Durable" and one stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of the Red Cross.


Maurice Ile Durable (MID, Mauritius a Sustainable Island)




MID is a societal project which aims to deliver sustainable growth. Announced in 2008, the roots of MID lie in the then Government's response to the global energy crisis of 2007.

However MID now aims to facilitate economic growth that respects the limitations of natural resources; a growth that is delivered by an empowered population, able to grasp the new opportunities of a green economy; and that also distributes wealth equitably.

The Goals of MID


The objective of MID is to achieve sustainable development. Specific goals have been set for the five 'Es':
Energy: to ensure that the Republic of Mauritius is an efficient user of energy, with its economy decoupled from fossil fuel.
Environment: to ensure sound environmental management and sustainability of our ecosystem services.
Employment/ Economy: to green the economy with decent jobs, offering long term career prospects.
Education: to have an education system that promotes the holistic development of all citizens.
Equity: to ensure that all citizens are able to contribute in the Republic's continuing growth and share its combined wealth.

150 Years of Humanitarian Action by the Red Cross and the Royal Crescent




In 1863, the Red Cross Society was founded in Geneva by Henri Dunant. 150 years later, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movements have 188 national societies with approximately 97 million volunteers to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering.

The movement, imbued with solidarity and cooperation, is the largest humanitarian network in the world. It consists of several distinct organisations that are legally independent from each  other, but are united within the movement through basic Fundamental Principles, objectives, symbols, statutes and governing organisations.

Each entity works in its home country according to the principles of international humanitarian law and the statutes of the international movement.

The Mauritius Red Cross Society (MRCS), established in 1973 by an Act of Parliament; celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013.

With over 500 volunteers from six branches around Mauritius including Rodrigues, the MRCS is reinforcing its unique status as 'auxiliary organisation to the State',

The mission of the MRCS is based on the Geneva Conventions, the International Humanitarian Law and the seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent movement: humanity, independence, impartiality, neutrality, unity, universality, and volunteering.

N.B.: The text above is adapted from the insert.

Unofficial FDC registered at Waterfront Post Office.
Rs18 63rd FIFA Congress stamp released on the same day.

Technical details:


Date of issue: 30 May 2013
Illustration
 Rs2 - Solar Energy (MID)
 Rs6 - Wind Energy (MID)
 Rs3 - Red Cross & Portrait of Henri Dunant
Graphic works: Neshvin Ramsawmy
Size:  29.94 x 44.45 mm
Printer: BDT International Security Printing Ltd., Dublin
Process: Lithography
Number per sheet: 50 stamps set in two panes of 25 separated by gutter
Watermark: w18 - CASCO
Perforation: 14 x 2 cm
Courtesy:
 MID Commission (text and photos)
 Mauritius Red Cross Society (text)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sites & Monuments

The Mauritius Post released on 18 April 2013 a set of four commemorative stamps on the theme 'Sites & Monuments'.



Rs5 - Prison de Belle Mare



The Belle Mare Prison, situated on the premises of Constance La Gaieté Sugar Estates was founded in 1783. It is one of the rare preserved structures reminding us of the treatment meted out to slaves during the 18th and the 19th centuries in Mauritius.

Most sugar plantations had slaves and the Letter Patents enacted under the Code Noir in 1723 provided various forms of punishment for offences committed by slaves.

During the early British occupation until the abolition of slavery in Mauritius in 1835, the conditions of slaves fared no better.

The Belle Mare Prison is made of basalt stone and lime mortar. The building is divided into three blocks; the longest block about 6.38 metres in length was used to keep slaves under restraint in fetters. Several cells are present and the original door openings are quite low.

The original structure of the building has undoubtedly been altered and it was at one time even used by the sugar estate for tobacco curing.

The Belle Mare Prison was proclaimed a National Heritage site in 1951.

Rs9 - Château de Bel Ombre



The Domaine de Bel Ombre was created in 1765 and in the early 19th century, the estate at Bel Ombre was planted with sugar cane on the coastal plains and produced sugar.

Charles Telfair, from 1816 to 1833, developed this estate to a great extent by improving the sugar cane culture both field and milling operations and produced wood from the forests on hill slopes.

The estate had various owners in the 19th century. It is believed that the present plantation house, the  Château de Bel Ombre (Bel Ombre Mansion), was built by a rich Indian owner, Mr. Hajee Jackaria Hajee Ahmed who never came to Mauritius.

It was designed by the architect who built the Treasury building, now the Prime Minister's Office.

Rs10 - IBL Building, Bowen Square, Port Louis



In the early 19th century, Mauritius experienced a fast expanding economy due to a soaring sugar industry and a rapid development of trading activities.

The Thomas Blyth, Sons & Co. and the Hunter, Ireland & Co. were established in 1830 and 1850 respectively.

Hunter, Ireland & Co., renamed Ireland Fraser & Co. on 1 July 1860, built impressive colonial style buildings in Port Louis in 1879 to House Ireland, Fraser & Co., General Merchants and Commission Agents; the Bowen Square was created.

The company was also known as Blyth Brothers and was involved in trade, especially in the export of sugar, in shipping and in insurance.

At the time, this stone building was in stark contrast with the other existing commercial ones of Port Louis. In November 1979, it became the registered office of Ireland Blyth Ltd. Since 2007, it is the registered office of Afrasia Bank Ltd.

Bowen Square is named after Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Governor of Mauritius from 1879 to 1882.

Rs18 - Le Batelage, Souillac




The Port of Souillac was an important strategic point during the French occupation but it was not before 1787 that it was provided with the necessary infrastructure and wharfs to facilitate access to coasters and other vessels of low tonnage.

Souillac was then a busy port area and the docks constructed within its precincts and which have of late been renovated as a tourist site, served as store for bales of sugar and goods before being shipped to Port Louis.

The Rs18 stamp is the only reproduction of a painting - by Y. Gunnoo - and the only stamp not to bear the location - Souillac - of the depicted place.

Unofficial registered FDC sent by express delivery with Advice of Delivery (AR)
from Port Louis GPO.

The above text is adapted from the insert.

Technical Details


Date of issue: 18 April 2013
Illustrations:
 Rs5 - Belle Mare Prison
 Rs9 - Bel Ombre Mansion
 Rs10 - IBL Building, Bowen Square, Port Louis
 Rs18 - Le Batelage, Souillac
 FDC - Bowen Square, Port Louis
Graphic works: Neshvin Ramsawmy
Size:  44.45 x 29.94 mm
Printer: BDT International Printing Ltd., Dublin, Ireland
Process: Lithography
Number per sheet: 50 stamps set in two panes of 25 separated by a gutter
Perforation: 14 x 2 cm
Watermark: w18 - CASCO
Courtesy:
  Constance La Gaieté
  Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre
  Ireland Blyth Ltd.
  Mr. Yeshen Gunnoo, artist
  Mr. Benjamin Moutou, historian

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

30th, 40th and 45th Anniversaries of Independence of Mauritius

The Mauritius Postal Services issued a Special Commemorative Cover on 12 March 1998 to mark 30 years of independence of Mauritius.

The paille-en-queue (a.k.a. phaéton) featured on the cover and in the special cachet.
Two indigenous species in Mauritius: the White-tailed Tropic Bird and the Red-tailed one.

Mauritius gained independence on 12 March 1968 from the United Kingdom with Queen Elizabeth II as Monarch; Mauritius was previously also a Dutch (1638-1710) and a French colony (1715-1810). On 12 March 1992, Mauritius attained the status of Republic within the Commonwealth with the President of Mauritius as Head of State.

Some remnants of the British period are our judiciary, the First-Past-The-Post electoral system and our driving on the left.

The Mauritius Post issued Special Commemorative Covers on 12 March 2008 and in 2013 to celebrate the 40th and 45th anniversaries of independence respectively.

Special cachet with 40th anniversary slogan in Mauritian Creole:
"Nou pays, nou fierté." Our country, our pride.

Note the difference in spelling of the Mauritian Creole word for 'country': "pays" like in French in 2008 and "pei" in 2013, and the use of accents in 2008 (for "fierté") and not in 2013 (for "pei").

"Enn Pei, Enn Nasion, Enn Destin." One Country, One Nation, One Destiny.

Both SCCs portray on the left the lowering of the Union Jack and the hoisting of the new Mauritian flag at  the Champs de Mars racetrack where thousands gathered.

On the right, Sir John Shaw Rennie, the last Governor, i.e. the acting Head of State, of colonial Mauritius congratulates Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the first Prime Minister of independent Mauritius. After independence, the former became Governor-General of Mauritius.

The recurrence of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, dubbed by some 'The Father of the Nation,'  on these SCCs and in the corresponding inserts, unfortunately does not reflect the work and efforts of other founding figures of independent Mauritius.

Private philatelic cover serviced at the Philatelic Bureau, Port Louis on 12 March 2013.

12th of March being a public holiday in Mauritius, all outlets of the Mauritius Post are closed, with the only exceptions of the Postal Museum in Port Louis and the Philatelic Bureau, located in the Museum, opened to tourists and philatelists who wish to have their covers or mail serviced with datestamps indicating 12 March, independence day.

Commemorative stamps were released for the 5th, 20th and 25th anniversaries of independence, and definitive stamps (the 'History of Mauritius' set) for the 10th anniversary.

P.S.: The Postal Museum and, by extension, the Philatelic Bureau are open on public holidays; unless the public holiday is on a Sunday in which case the Postal Museum is closed. The last time the Postal Museum was exceptionally open on a Sunday was on 9 October 2011, World Post Day, when two stamps were being released. Selected Post Offices throughout the island also opened for business for limited hours on that day.


Technical Details


30th Anniversary Cover
Release date: 12 March 1998
Stamp: Rs10 - 'POST OFFICE' 1d. and 2d. on silver background
            From the '150th Anniversary of the 'POST OFFICE' Stamps' issue of 22 September 1997.

40th Anniversary Cover
Release date: 12 March 2008
Stamp: Rs15 - Painting published by Harrison, 1798
            From the 'Dodo (Raphus cucullatus)' issue of 25 June 2007.

45th Anniversary Cover
Release date: 12 March 2013
Stamp: Rs8 - Anthurium andreanum var tropical
            From the 'Anthurium' issue of 1 December 2004

Monday, September 7, 2015

150th Birth Anniversary of Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-2013)

The Mauritius Post released on 31 January 2013 a Special Commemorative Cover to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of modern Olympic Games.


Born on 1 January 1863 in Paris, France in a family of Italian origin, Pierre Fredy de Coubertin studied at a Jesuit school and then at the "Ecole de Sciences politiques" (School of Political Science).

He spent part of his youth in the familial home, the Mirville mansion in Haute-Normandie, northern France, and in Paris, at 20, Oudinot Street, where the seat of the International Olympic Committee was initially located.

Pierre de Coubertin founded the first International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 23 June 1894 in Sorbonne, Paris; the first Games were awarded to Greece, the cradle of Ancient Olympic Games.

De Coubertin only became the President of the IOC in 1896 until his resignation in 1925. He was passionate about history, sports, pedagogy, sociology, cultural heritage, art and politics and was a keen writer and sportsman.

The Olympic rings (five inter-locking rings coloured blue, yellow, black, green and red on a white background, mistakenly reproduced on the SCC) combine the colours of the flags of all participating countries at that time. 

Baron Pierre de Coubertin passed away on 2 September 1937 at the age of 74.

N.B.: Part of the above text was translated from French from the insert.

Technical Details:


Release date: 31 January 2013
Stamp: Rs25 - Kite Flying
            From the 'Traditional Games' issue of 7 December 2006.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Inauguration of Eau Coulée Post Office

The Posts and Telegraphs Department of Mauritius released on 8 February 1991 a Special Cover to mark the inauguration of Eau Coulée Post Office.


Eau Coulée is a locality of the town of Curepipe. It lies in the centre of the island in the Plaine Wilhems District.

Prior to 1991, no post office serviced Eau Coulée. If I am not mistaken, the closest Post Office was that of Curepipe Road, now closed.

Four Post Offices currently service Curepipe: Curepipe, Eau Coulée, Floréal, and Forest Side.

Technical Details:


Release date: 8 February 1991

Stamps:
40c - Sir Aneerood Jugnauth at desk
          From the '60th Anniversary of Prime Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth' issue of 29 March 1990

Rs3 - Submarine View
         From the 'Protection of the Environment' definitive issue of 11 March 1989

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Post released on 7 August 2015 two se-tenant $1.30 stamps to commemorate the listing of the Singapore Botanic Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Created in 1859 at its present location, the Singapore Botanic Gardens was initially a plan of Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), the founder of modern Singapore and a keen naturalist, when he developed in 1822 the 'Botanical and Experimental Garden' in Fort Canning.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens became on 4 July 2015 the first and only tropical garden to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 39th World Heritage Committee held in Bonn, Germany from 28 June to 8 July 2015.

Special thanks to Terence for this superb FDC sent from Paya Lebar Post Office on the first day of issue.


Acknowledgements: Eric Contesse (http://timbredujura.blogspot.com/2015/08/singapore-has-its-first-unesco-world.html)

Website of the SBG: https://www.sbg.org.sg/

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

50th Anniversary of the Independence of Singapore (1965-2015)

2015 marks 50 years since Singapore became independent. After 'Our Journey Together' in 2013 and 'I am Singaporean' in 2014, Singapore Post released on 5 August 2015 another set of stamps titled 'A Brighter Future Together' to celebrate the country's golden jubilee.


The stamps convey the following messages:

1st Local - United As One People
2nd Local - A Smart Singapore
60c -  Hear Us Roar
70c - Realising Our Aspirations
90c - Our Heritage, Our Culture, Our Future
$1.30 - Harmonious at Heart

The back of the official FDC.


Thank you very much Terence for these really nice FDCs sent from Sengkang Central Post Office on the first day of issue.

A $5 miniature sheet printed by offset lithography with gold-coloured aluminium hot stamped with Guilloché effect was also released.


The insert.

Terence also sent me these cinderella stamps. Cinderella stamps are "virtually anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government postal administration." (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_stamp)


The World Stamp Exhibition was held in Singapore from 14-19 August 2015 and joint issues scheduled in the context of these golden jubilee celebrations.

Logo of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.