Thursday, March 19, 2009

A lovely cover from Fiji

Bula! (“Hello!”, "Cheers!" in Fijian language) Today I am going to present to you my first cover from Fiji!

First let me give you some information about the islands. Fiji (sometimes called the Fiji Islands), is a Melanesian country in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand and consists of an archipelago that includes 332 islands, a handful of which make up most of the land area, and approximately 110 of which are inhabited.

Fiji straddles the 180 degree longitude line (which crosses land on a remote tip of Vanua Levu and again near the center of Taveuni), so the international date line jogs east, placing Fiji all in one time zone and, "ahead" of most of the rest of the world. (for more info pls visit

The beautiful stamp used on the cover belongs to a set of 4 stamps from the Extinct Megafauna series (shown below). It was issued on 15th August 2006.

50c – Fiji crocodile (Volia athollandersoni) This terrestrial crocodile belongs to the family Mekosuchidae, other species of which were present in Vanuatu and New Caledonia. All are now extinct. It was small for a crocodile, but nevertheless would have been the most feared animal in Fiji before human settlement. It is named after Professor Atholl Anderson, the Australian archaeologist who directed the project which resulted in the discovery of its fossil remains. There are number of reports of crocodiles being found in Fiji in the past couple of hundred years, but these are almost certainly vagrant saltwater crocodiles that drifted from the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu.

$1.10 – Vitilevu giant pigeon ( Natunaornis gigoura) this is a giant flightless pigeon, up to 80cm (32inches) tall, only slightly smaller than the fabled dodo of Mauritius. Though the remains of many large extinct pigeons have been discovered in the Pacific region, this is easily the largest. It probably fed mainly on fallen fruit and land molluscs and crab. It was named in honour of Kiniviliame Natuna, the senior chief of Volivoli in Nadroga, where the fossil remains of this bird were first discovered.

$1.20 – Vitilevu ( Vitirallus watlingi) This flightless rail was similar to the widespread banded rail of Fiji (bici in Fijian), but with a distinct long, slender, curved bill. It was probably confined largely to the drier western parts of Vitilevu, and succumbed to predation by people who arrived in Fiji some 3,000 years ago, and the accompanying rats. The genius name is composed of Viti, the Fijian name of the Fiji Islands, plus rallus, the Latin word for ‘rail’. The species is named after Fiji’s foremost naturalist and environmentalist, Dr Dick Watling.

$1.50 – Giant Fiji ground frog ( Platymantis megabotoniviti). This was a large ground frog almost twice the size of its surviving relatives, the Fiji ground frog (Platymantis vitianus) and the Fiji tree frog (Platymantis vitiensis). It was probably eaten to extinction by the first inhabitants of Fiji, and the rats ( Rattus exulans and Rattus preator) that arrived with them. Its specific name is derived from botoniviti, the modern Fijian name for the native frogs, with the Greek prefix mega- meaning ‘great’.

Click here for Fiji's current & past issues.

This cover travelled an estimated distance of 8,345km and took 6 days to reach me.

I will end my posting here by sharing with you this lovely 1953 Fiji six-pence turtle coin from my very small coins collection. Yes! My favourite animal! Enjoy!

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