The Gambia 1978 Birds of Prey set is one of the early WWF forerunners, which today is a popular collecting subject. This was their second set highlighting the Abuko Nature Reserve, with the first being issued in 1976.
Unusually for a World Wild Life Fund (WWF) set all the birds depicted are fairly common. Later sets tend to focus on highlighting the plight of endangered animals. Still, they did highlight the reserve which serves a purpose.
The Base Set
The set comprised four values and all are perf 14 and printed on unwatermarked paper. The set probably saw a bit of localised commercial use as used sets tend to sell for around 15% of the MNH price. Having said that the majority of sets we have seen look to have been soaked from FDCs.
Genuine commercial covers franked with any value combination are scarce and postally used are thus worth a premium over CTO.
The set was issued on 28th October 1978 and denominated 20b (Bututs), 25b, 50b & 1.25d (dalasi). The stamps depict the following species…
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (Bubo lacteus)
Also known as the Milky 0r Giant Eagle-Owl on account of their size (26inches tall). We find them fascinating as they have Pink Eyelids! They are fairly widespread & common throughout Africa which makes their inclusion in this set a little unusual. The IUCN lists them as a species of Least Concern.
Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus)
Also known as the Lizard Hawk they are more closely related to Goshawks than Buzzards and are still quite widespread throughout Africa.
African Harrier Hawk (Polyboroides typus)
Still regarded as common in Gambia & West Africa but declining in the more easterly & southern regions this species is noted for having double-jointed knees. See, we are a fountain of interesting facts here at Five Minutes Spare!
Long Crested Eagle (Lophoaetus occipitallis)
These are rather distinctive for the obvious reason. They are not particularly large as eagles go and their diet mainly consists of rodents.
First Day Covers
These tend to be single-stamp issues, given the stamps are quite large. All four together do make a nice display though. You will recognise the twin ring cancel on many of the used sets offered.
As stated above genuine postally used stamps are quite hard to find, and on covers or postcards even more so. If you ever find some on paper or cover please keep them that way and send us a picture as we don’t have any.