Wildlife of the Welsh Indian Ocean Territory

The Welsh Indian Ocean Territory is a series of atolls and sea mounts strung out over 1 million square miles of ocean. The islands are home to Welsh ex-pats who thought tey were retiring to paradise and couldn’t afford the fare home. Abracadabra Island was the base used by the Welsh Space programme until 1972. Despite only having a land area of 10 square miles there is a small but unique cross-section of rare wildlife there. This set of stamps was issued in 1969.

50c Knitted Crab. This is a soft bodied crustacean, like the hermit crab, but instead of commandeering a shell it uses its pincers to knit a covering out of sea weeds and anything available. As it grows it will cast off its old suit and climb into a new one. The old suits are in demand as doilies in souvenir shops.

1 Wupee Very Big Fly. If you are daft enough to visit the desolate Clarach Island Group make sure you don’t get bitten by these insects. You could catch anything from Blue Nose Fever to Insomnia sickness.

3 Wupee Elephant Shark. Old mariners back in Swansea had monstrous stories of the Elephant Shark to tell in the bars in a return for drinks for the evening. They never let on that its name comes not from its size, but from its trunk like snout and big flappy pectoral fins. It grows to perhaps 60 cm long.

5 Wupee Predicable Tortoise. A giant tortoise living on Predictable Island. Or does the island get its name from the tortoise’s predictable habit of following their own daily course around the island. So predictable were they that the people could rely on them for transport.

The rare 2 Wupee stamp was withdrawn from the issue when someone realised the stamp designer had played a prank and they were close to an embarrassing gaffe.

The extras included with this posting were the Xmas labels hand produced by the native islanders. When the Welsh Space Program was in operation there was a lot of activity at the Pentre Bychan Awrodrome with planes dropping off food, supplies and other goods for the workers and scientists based there. Before this the islanders had little contact with a technological society and they rationalised their own religious stories with the seemingly miraculous appearance of gifts from the skies. When they pointed to the delivery plane and asked who was bringing the goods they were told it was Siôn from Abergavenny. The islanders naturally reckoned that they “deserved a bit of that” and so a Cargo Cult evolved and they made shrines to Siôn Ffrum where they prayed for gifts of chocolates, radios and Cuppa Cawl. Sometime in the late 1970s the cult brought Christmas into their ceremonies and they wrote their letters to Siôn Ffrum as a Santa Claus figure; making their own stamp paper from leaves and stuff, and putting these on their letters. These letters were left in the shrines or put atop the palm trees for collection. Ironically the Abergavenny Advertiser reported the death of a Siôn Ffrum in 1993. His house was full of all sorts of consumer goods neatly packaged in boxes and crates. Neighbours said he had been waiting for some letters from abroad for nearly 20 years. This may just be coincidence.

148 213 149 214

150 215151 216

152 218 153 219 154 220 155

Wildlife of the Welsh Indian Ocean Territory

SK NumberTypeDescription
21314350 cent Knitted Crab
213d50 cent diabolo
2141441 Wupee Very Big Fly
2151453 Wupee Elephant Shark
215d3 Wupee diabolo
2161465 Wupee Predictable Tortoise
2171472 Wupee withdrawn stamp
218148Cargo cult confectionery label
219149Cargo cult Xmas aircraft label
220150Cargo cult Vimto label
221151Cargo cult TV label

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