Mauritius

Charles Darwin and HMS Beagle on stamps and postmarks of Mauritius


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Contents:
Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the island of Mauritius, Rodrigues, and the outer islands.
Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch. The French assumed control in 1715, developing the island into an important naval base overseeing Indian Ocean trade, and establishing a plantation economy of sugar cane.
The British captured the island in 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars. Mauritius remained a strategically important British naval base, and later an air station, playing an important role during World War II for anti-submarine and convoy operations, as well as the collection of signals intelligence.
Independence from the UK was attained in 1968. The government uses English as the main language. [R1]

The Dodo or Dronte (scientific name Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird of the pigeon family weighing up to 23 kg.
This species was only found on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
Around 1505, the Portuguese became the first Europeans to discover this island.
Less than 200 years later, the Dodo had been driven extinct by humans and the animals brought to the island by Europeans.
The Dodo is depicted on a number of stamps from Mauritius as well as on several other countries’ stamps.
As this animal died out in recorded history due to human activities, it is not considered a prehistoric animal.
Due to this reason, these stamps are not included on this site. [R3]


Mauritius achieved independence on March 12, 1968. Its stamps thereafter depicting colorful images relevant to the island, such as wildlife and plants, local scenes and important persons.
The early stamps of Mauritius have been reproduced several times on commemorative issues. So far the only stamp set related to Paleontology is the set of Charles Darwin's voyage issued in 1982. [R2]



Official stamps of Mauritius related to Paleontology: Charles Darwin

19.04.1982 "The Voyage of Darwin" [1]
Charles Darwin on stamp of Mauritius 1982

Notes:
[1] On April 19, 1982 four islands country: Ascension island, Falkland island, Mauritius, St. Helena issued set of 4 stamps with very similar design to commemorate the 150th anniversary since the famous scientist started his voyage of exploration (1831-1836) and visited these islands.

Charles Darwin on stamps of Ascension, Falkland, Mauritius and St. Helena island countries

Charles Darwin (1809 -1882) was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the theory of evolution.
His proposition that all species of life have descended from common ancestors, published in his most famous book "On the Origin of Species" in 1859. This theory is now widely accepted and considered a fundamental concept in all biological science, including paleontology.

Every set contain four stamps:
  • stamp with portrait of Charles Darwin
  • stamp of one of the tools young Darwin used during his voyage
  • stamp of an animal Darwin met on a particular island
  • stamp shows HMS Beagle. The ship that carried recently graduated naturalist Charles Darwin around the world.
One of the sets has a stamp that looks a bit different from the other three. On the stamp from Mauritius, Darwin is shown as an old man riding on the back of an elephant.
moustache of Charles Darwin on stamp of Mauritius 1982 The other three stamps used portraits of Darwin as a young man.
During his visit to Mauritius, the young Darwin didn’t have a beard or moustache.
He never visited the island again.
The portrait of Old Darwin is a stylized portrait.
The styling of the beard and moustache are different from what is shown in well-known later portraits of Darwin.
In addition, the island of Mauritius is not home to a native population of elephants.
Darwin did ride an elephant though when he visited Mauritius!
The elephant was provided by the Governor of the Islands – who had received the elephants as a gift from some Indian Maharaja.



Some commemorative postmarks of Mauritius to consider: HMS Beagle

Legend is here
19.04.1982 "The Voyage of Darwin" [1] [FDC]
HMS Beagle on commemorative postmark of Mauritius 1982



References:



Acknowledgements:
Many thanks to Dr. Peter Voice from Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University, for the draft page review and his valuable comments.


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