The Flight of the Fish Eagle on new South African stamps

The Flight of the Fish Eagle on new South African stamps

The unmistakable call of the African Fish Eagle – often referred to as the call of Africa – has the power to send shivers down one's spine. Equally powerful is the sight of a fish eagle gracefully swooping down to catch its prey just under the water's surface. This captivating eagle appeared as a moving image on a stamp sheet with two different stamp designs issued by South African Post.

The flight of the African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) stamp sheet was issued as part of the South African Post Office's bird series. For the first time in South Africa the lenticular technique is applied to the stamps.

What is a lenticular?

According to Paul Meijboom from Joh Enschede Printers in the Netherlands, a lenticular is a combination of a special lens and an arrayed image that simulates animation or depth. Autostereoscopic images refer to pictures that take advantage of how the human eye processes the two images that the left and right eyes receive. They interpret them as depth and three-dimensionality. A lenticular uses the movement of our bodies in relation to produce a pseudo-hologram that looks like a person running, an apple popping out of a flat poster, or a distant car approaching.

The African Fish Eagle

The African Fish Eagle is one of the most widespread birds of prey south of the Sahara and is officially acknowledged by many African nations. A very distinctive bird in flight, the white head, neck, upper belly, and tail contrast sharply with the chestnut and black body feathers.

The African Fish Eagle is most frequently found at the rivers, dams, lakes and estuaries of Africa south of the Sahara. Although they can hunt at any time of the day, they usually do so in the early morning for about two hours. Fish make up 90% of their diet, while the other 10% consists of young water birds or carrion. They are able to snatch fish weighing 1,5 kg, carrying them off in flight. Anything heavier and weighing up to 3 kg (roughly the same mass as their own body) is caught and "planed" across the water onto the shore. It takes an average of eight strikes for a successful catch.

In 2012, the African Fish Eagle was Bird of the Year - one of several initiatives by BirdLife South Africa aiming to create awareness about birds, their habitat and conservation.

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