stampOn Tuesday, Sept. 20, the U.S Postal Service issues the Save Vanishing Species “semipostal” stamp. When you purchase the 55-cent stamp—11 cents over the cost of a regular first-class stamp—you’ll help fund conservation programs for critically endangered species, including sea turtles like Shedd’s Caribbean Reef star, Nickel.

Here’s how it works: The USPS will transfer the net proceeds from the sale of the stamps to the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, which are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its international Wildlife Without Borders programs. These funds are distributed as grants for on-the-ground conservation programs to save some of the world’s fastest-disappearing species in their natural habitats.

turtleAmong the funds is the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund. The USFWS has a long history of partnering with other countries on sea turtle conservation programs, but this fund expands its ability to support a variety of community-based efforts, especially in developing countries, where conservation monies are scarce. Projects include a recovery program for a population of leatherback sea turtles that nest on Vietnam’s central coast; a dual program in Nicaragua for monitoring hawksbill sea turtle nesting activity while also developing a turtle-based ecotourism program that will benefit the community; support for ranger training and capacity building for Oman’s marine turtle conservation program to help protect the world’s largest nesting aggregation of loggerhead sea turtles and a significant green turtle nesting population; and travel grants for researchers from developing countries to attend an international symposium on sea turtle biology and conservation held in the United States each year.

The Saving Vanishing Species stamp, which features an Amur tiger cub, also supports dedicated conservation funds for African elephants, Asian elephants, great apes, rhinos and tigers, helping to preserve habitats, combat poaching and prevent diseases. Together, these conservation funds benefit more than 250 researchers in over 75 countries.

The stamp is the result of federal legislation, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Stamp Act, passed in 2010 with support from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which Shedd is a member, and other conservation organizations in the Multinational Species Coalition. It will be issued during a ceremony at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Saving Vanishing Species stamps are available in sheets of 20 for $11 at your nearest post office and at the USPS online Postal Store, where you can also purchase notecard sets and, for the true philatelist, first-day covers, ceremony programs and other commemorative pieces.

This is conservation everyone can contribute to with every birthday card, letter and bill mailed. Please purchase the Saving Vanishing Species stamps—and help stamp out extinction!

—Karen Furnweger, web editor