Minisheet on Great Bustard – EUROPA 2021 – Romania

The Theme for 2021 EUROPA Stamps is Endangered National Wildlife.

Romania issued two stamps on 22 April 2021 on EUROPA 21 theme. The Fauna featured is European Mink(3.40 L) and Great Bustard (19.50 L). These have been issued in Minisheets and Miniature Sheets also. The Print Run for the stamps is 28,780.

Great Bustard – The second postage stamp of the issue, with the face value of Lei 19.50, features the Great bustard (Otis tarda).The great bustard is the largest bird species in Europe in weight: adult males can weigh more than 15 kg. (Females are much smaller, weighing 4-5 kg.) Another characteristic of males are the so-called “whiskers”, in fact modified feathers, which grow at the base of the beak and reach their maximum length (about 20 cm) during the breeding season.

The great bustard is a plain bird; it lives in steppe meadows, but also on land cultivated with rapeseed, alfalfa, cereals. It feeds on vegetation, insects and small vertebrates. The range of this species extends from Western Europe (Spain and Portugal) to Central and Eastern Asia.

The great bustard was once widespread in the plains of Romania, but the spread of human civilization has profoundly affected this species: the vast desert meadows, where birds lived quietly, have been transformed into arable land, ploughed, irrigated, sprayed with pesticides, crossed by people and agricultural machinery; high voltage lines have appeared, which can lead to the death of many specimens, because the great bustards, despite their size, can fly at high speed. To these were added hunting and poaching, the great bustard being considered not only a tasty game, but also a trophy. The great bustard is a very vigilant bird and does not tolerate the presence of man at less than 250 m away, making it difficult to shoot, but people have found ingenious solutions to get closer to the right distance for shooting. The peasants hid, for example, behind silhouettes of cows, made of cardboard or wood. Another method was to hunt from the cart: the hunter was hiding under the mats, thus being able to approach the bustards, who were not afraid of carts and horses. Eventually, hunting and habitat destruction led, in our country, to such a drastic decrease in numbers, so that in the 1990s the great bustard was considered extinct in Romania.