JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Pangolin, lion, mountain gorilla, white rhino and other endangered wild animals and plants found in Africa appeared on a set of 12 new stamps issued by the United Nations on Friday.
The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) issued the stamps to coincide with a major world wildlife conference in South Africa.
The 17th meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), known as CITES CoP17, will kick off on Saturday in Johannesburg and last until October 5.
The stamps commemorate CITES CoP17 with 12 species of CITES-listed animals and plants found in Africa, including cape pangolin, lion, mountain gorilla, white rhinoceros, which are high on the agenda of the meeting.
Africa is home to a rich diversity of wild animals and plants, including some of the world's most admired species. However, the loss of habitat and poaching driven by illicit trafficking, with the latter being the most immediate threat for some species, has decimated both charismatic species, like elephant and rhino, and lesser known ones, such as pangolins, in recent years.
Some of these species are featured on the stamps.
CoP17 has brought the world's governments and wider community of interest together to tackle these issues, not only in Africa but on a global scale in its largest ever gathering.
Commenting on the issuance of this special edition of the UN Endangered Species Stamps, CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon, said: "It is almost two decades since an African country has hosted a meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES."
All eyes will be focused on South Africa and on CITES over the coming two weeks as its 182 Parties (181 countries and the European Union) take critical decisions affecting the future of some of the world's most precious wildlife, he said.
Since July, the UN General Assembly has adopted two resolutions on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife. It is therefore highly appropriate that the UN Postal Administration issues these special stamps to raise awareness of wildlife conservation and to mark CITES CoP17, Scanlon said.
UNPA Chief Thanawat Amnajanan said the UNPA has been working with CITES for its Endangered Species stamp series for over 20 years.
He said the United Nations is honoured to issue this special "Eye on Africa" edition of Endangered Species stamps to celebrate and support the important work of CITES and to promote the CITES CoP17 - the World Wildlife Conference.
The 12 species of wild animals and plants featured on the "Eye on Africa - CITES CoP17" series are: Addax (Addax nasomaculatus); African lion (Panthera leo); Avonia Quinaria; Cape pangolin (Smutsia temminckii); Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres); Disa uniflora; Grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum); Madagascan mantella (Mantella madagascariensis); Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei); Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus); Mystacidium Capense, and White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum).
This is the 23rd edition on the UN Endangered Species stamps since the series started in 1993, featuring CITES-listed species each year.