Issue Date: 11 May 2021
Drawings: Johan de Crem
Layout: Ierace + Dechmann + Partners (LU)
Sheet Composition: 10 stamps each design
Sheet Size: 45 x 33 mm
Printing Method: Multicoloured offset-Lithographie, 800 and 1200 frame printing and random printing
Printer: Cartor Security Printing, Meaucé La Loupe, France
The choice of motifs on this year’s theme of “Endangered National Wildlife” marks the start of POST Philately’s three-year cooperation with Luxembourg’s Nature and Forest Agency, the focus of which is the protection of the most endangered species of animal native to Luxembourg.
Western polecat (Mustela putorius), Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis)
The greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) is a European species of bat in the family Vespertilionidae.
Myotis myotis is a large bat with a long, broad muzzle and big, long ears. The body’s dorsal side is brown to reddish-brown, while the ventral side is dirty white or beige. The tragus forms half of the ear, with a small black tip in most individuals. Wing membranes are brownish in colour. The Greater mouse-eared bat is relatively large for a member of the genus Myotis, weighing up to 45 grams (1.6 oz) and measuring 8 to 9 cm from head to tail (a little larger than a house mouse, Mus musculus), making it one of the largest European bats. It has a 40 cm wingspan, with a forearm length of 6 cm, and a 4 to 5 cm long tail. The average lifespan of a greater mouse-eared bat is 3–4 years, although particular individuals have lived up to 14 years.
The greater mouse-eared bat can be found throughout Europe, with populations in most European countries except Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is also found on many Mediterranean islands, such as Sicily, Malta, and the Gymnesian Islands. In the Middle East, Myotis myotis has been found in Turkey, Israel, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. It possibly lives in the United Kingdom.
In the Balearics, Myotis myotis can be found on the islands of Mallorca and Menorca. It is the most abundant species of bat on Mallorca, with several caves containing large colonies of 200, 400 and 500 individuals. It is also very common in the Iberian Peninsula and France.
During the 20th century, this species was very rare in Great Britain, occurring only in southern England. However, the bats at the only known hibernation roost declined until only a few males were left, and when these disappeared the species was believed locally extinct. However, occasional individuals have been discovered in recent years, suggesting either that a colony survives or that further animals have colonized Great Britain from mainland Europe.
In 2012, a LIFE-Nature project was initiated, aiming to protect the several thousands of greater mouse-eared bat in the Gola della Rossa and Frasassi Nature Park in the Marches.
The European polecat (Mustela putorius) is a species of mustelid native to western Eurasia and North Africa. It is of a generally dark brown colour, with a pale underbelly and a dark mask across the face. Occasionally, colour mutations, including albinos and erythrists, occur. Compared to minks and other weasels – fellow members of the genus Mustela – the polecat has a shorter, more compact body; a more powerfully built skull and dentition; is less agile; and it is well known for having the characteristic ability to secrete a particularly foul-smelling liquid to mark its territory.
It is much less territorial than other mustelids, with animals of the same sex frequently sharing home ranges. Like other mustelids, the European polecat is polygamous, with pregnancy occurring after mating, with no induced ovulation. It usually gives birth in early summer to litters consisting of five to 10 kits, which become independent at the age of two to three months. The European polecat feeds on small rodents, birds, amphibians and reptiles. It occasionally cripples its prey by piercing its brain with its teeth and stores it, still living, in its burrow for future consumption.
The European polecat originated in Western Europe during the Middle Pleistocene, with its closest living relatives being the steppe polecat, the black-footed ferret and the European mink. With the two former species, it can produce fertile offspring, though hybrids between it and the latter species tend to be sterile, and are distinguished from their parent species by their larger size and more valuable pelts.
The European polecat is the sole ancestor of the ferret, which was domesticated more than 2,000 years ago for the purpose of hunting vermin. The species has otherwise been historically viewed negatively by humans. In the British Isles especially, the polecat was persecuted by gamekeepers, and became synonymous with promiscuity in early English literature. During modern times, the polecat is still scantly represented in popular culture when compared to other rare British mammals, and misunderstandings of its behavior still persist in some rural areas. As of 2008, it is classed by the IUCN as Least Concern due to its wide range and large numbers.