Beautiful illustrations of animals on stamps take on a mournful tone within the context of extinction.
Close to 900 species are threatened with extinction in Vietnam, and at least 10 have completely vanished. Thirteen of these creatures teetering on the brink of existence have been immortalized by Hanoi-based graphic designer Tung Nam‘s lively illustrations in “The Red List” Stamps. The animals Tung features are feathery, froggy, fishy, fluttery, furry, hoofed and creepy-crawly. Based on the animals’ real-life images, the illustrations’ jagged white edges frame them pleasingly.
The first stamp that is shown in the series is a common pheasant, Phasianus colchicus. The pheasant, whose population is decreasing, looks startled, its sharp tail feathers jutting out prominently and its beady eye aghast.
The Pitta nympha has an impressive beak and rotund body. The bright blue of the bird is striking when set against a red and orange landscape. Pitta nympha can be found in Tam Dao National Park and you can listen to the bird’s call here.
Another animal captured on a stamp is the Rhacophorus nigropalmatus, or the Abah River flying frog. Its large, orange webbed feet and body can be seen sitting on a leaf, a single drop of water suspended over its head like an emerald.
This frog can fly thanks to the membranes between its toes and the loose skin flaps on its sides which help it to catch air as it glides through space; its oversized toe-pads allow it to land softly and stick to its destination.
Oxymonacanthus longirostris are fish known to share the same feeding territory for their entire life. To abate any warm and fuzzy feelings related to this “couple,” keep in mind that in this species, aggression is a common form of courtship. These fish are listed as vulnerable in great part due to their corallivorous nature. Their dependence on coral for both their living arrangements and as their sole food source makes their survival closely tied to the health of coral reefs, which has been in decline recently.
Another creature of note depicted by Tung is the Attacus atlas linnaeus. This intricately patterned moth has a wingspan that can reach up to 30 centimeters, making it the biggest in the world. One was found in Binh Thuan Province in June of 2010, but these impressive moths have become quite rare thanks to the overuse of pesticides and butterfly collecting.
Take a look at the Caloenas nicobarica, or the Nicobar pigeon. It resembles a fancy version of an average pigeon; peacock-colored stately plumage cascading down from its head like overgrown sideburns.These pigeons are near-threatened because they are often captured for food and the exotic pet trade, while their habitats are destroyed and invasive mammals feed on them. Take a listen to their cooing here.