2007-2017 WILDLIFE PROTECTION by Coin Invest Trust 2017-02-12T19:07:17+00:00

Project Description

2007-2017 WILDLIFE PROTECTION by Coin Invest Trust

As well as the Tiffany Art series, another range of coins from Liechtenstein-based producer Coin Invest Trust (CIT) has accumulated awards and plaudits over its lifetime – Wildlife Protection. There are actually quite a few similarities between the two flagship ranges. Both are high-relief, both are antique-finished, and both have an insert set within them.

With a first debut back in 2007, some three years after Tiffany first appeared, it wasn’t long before the awards starting coming in, the first coin winning the Krause Coin of the Year award. Despite that, it was to be 2011 before a second coin appeared, but there has been a new, eagerly anticipated release every year since.

The theme of the series seems straightforward enough, a look at wildlife that inhabits the region in and around the Central Asian state of Mongolia. It does so in a quite beautiful way. Each coins reverse side depicts the face of an animal, struck in high-relief and blended perfectly up to the rim of the coin. Inset into the eyes are Swarovski crystals, each matched in size and colour to the animal and design in question. We’re not huge fans of these crystals in coins usually, but we have to admit that CIT have done a great job in keeping their presence integral to the design, rather than detracting from it. We don’t think there are any poor designs in this series, the latest 2016 Saker Falcon being a quite superb effort, aided by CIT’s new SmartMinting technology enhancing the relief and detail.

In addition to the silver, CIT have, with the exception of 2007 and 2012, launched minigold (0.5g) coins with the same subject, but different design. This producer has long been a proponent of this format, more so than just about anyone, and that’s paid dividends over the last couple of years as its popularity has increased. Because of the 11 mm size, the designs are quite simplistic in comparison, but that’s quite usual given how little metal is there to work with. We’d love to see a reproduction of the silver design on the minigold and we’re holding out hope that CIT’s new BGM (Big Gold Minting) technology will make that possible.

The silver coins have suffered from increased counterfeiting in recent years as prices on early issues have skyrocketed, EBay being a particularly virulent source of early coin copies, but CIT have implemented some clever techniques to combat that on later coins. Most importantly is the implementation of SeQrySign, a tiny privy mark bearing the initials of CIT and BH Mayer, the mint that strikes most of CIT’s designs and the co-designer of the mark. The size and detail make successful copying of the mark incredibly difficult. The quality of the originals is also hard to replicate. Prices remain firm on early coins after a settling down, and new releases are still eagerly awaited. A really fine series of coins, well worth the effort to collect.

2007 WOLVERINE (GULO GULO)

The Wolverine (Gulo Gulo) is the largest terrestrial member of the Weasel family and is also known as the Glutton or the Skunk Bear. A solitary animal, this powerful carnivore more closely resembles a small bear than the rest of the weasel family, but appearances can be deceptive. Like many weasels they can take down prey many times their own size, having a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to their actual size.

The Wolverine ranges far outside of Mongolia, found in Northern boreal forests and subarctic and alpine tundra throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska, through Scandanavia to Siberia. Since the 19th century the Wolverine population has steadily declined due to trapping and habitat reduction, our fault again. It is to all intents, absent from the southern end of its European range.

The adult wolverine is about the size of a medium dog, with a length usually ranging from 65–107 cm, a tail of 17–26 cm, and a weight of 9–25 kg, though exceptionally large males can weigh up to 32 kg. The males are as much as 30% larger than the females and can be twice the females’ weight. Wolverines have thick, dark, oily fur which is highly hydrophobic, making it resistant to frost, hence its popularity with trappers. It has potent anal scent glands used for marking territory and sexual signaling, which explains the name Skunk Bear.

Prey mainly consists of small to medium-sized mammals, but the wolverine has been recorded killing prey such as adult deer that are many times larger than itself. Armed with powerful jaws, sharp claws, and a thick hide, they may defend kills against larger or more numerous predators such as wolves or bears. At least one account reported a wolverine’s apparent attempt to steal a kill from a black bear, although the bear won what was ultimately a fatal contest. Wolves are thought to be their most important natural predator, with the arrival of wolves to a wolverine’s territory presumably leading the latter to abandon the area.

2011 URAL OWL (STRIX URALENSIS)

The Ural owl has an extended distribution area in Europe and Asia, from Sakhalin, Japan and Korea in the east to Scandinavia in the west. The northern border is at approximately 65 degrees north latitude, and the southern border follows the southern delimitation of the taiga.

The Ural owl is smaller than the great grey owl, and much larger than the tawny owl, which it superficially resembles. Distinguishing features apart from the size are the pale, buffish grey-brown plumage, with copious dark brown streaking on the back, back of the head and underparts. It has a round head with plain buffish-grey facial discs, orange-yellow bill and small black eyes. The tail is long and wedge-shaped, with dark barring on the uppertail, and the wings are rounded. Flight is direct and purposeful, recalling that of the common buzzard. Sexes are similar, with no seasonal variation. Length can range 50-61 cm and wingspan from 110-134 cm. Weight in males is 500–730 g and in females is 720–1,300 g.

The northern populations of the Ural owl occupy similar habitat to the great grey owl, nesting in lowland forests but avoiding dense areas, especially those of purely conifers. In central Europe it is an upland species, preferring deciduous woodland. It usually occupies open woodland and is more often found in moist rather than dry areas. It nests in hollow tree trunks, occasionally in old raptor nests, and increasingly in nestboxes. It normally lays two to four eggs, which hatch after 27–34 days. The young leave the nest after about four weeks, but will not fly until about six weeks old. It is a very aggressive owl, chasing other birds of prey from its territory, and it will attack human intruders, especially when young are present.

The Ural owl feeds on rodents and medium-sized to large birds such as jays and willow ptarmigan, although normally only up to the size of a woodpigeon. Its territorial call, which can carry up to two kilometres, is a soft, deep wo-ho….. woho uhwo-ho. Birds also give unmistakable yapping bau – wau calls, which are delivered by both sexes.

2012 LONG-EARED HEDGEHOG (HEMIECHINUS AURITUS)

The long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus) is native to Central Asia and to some Middle Eastern countries. Living in burrows it has either found or built itself, these hedgehogs are often kept as pets where they may live for over seven years.

The length of the head and body of the long-eared hedghog is approximately 120–270 mm, and the tail is 10–50 mm long. The ears of this hedgehog are 30–45 mm longer than the closest spine. They are used for heat radiation in the desert. Long-eared hedgehogs have great senses of hearing and smell that they use to hunt out food and detect predators.

The long-eared hedgehog is an insectivore; 70% of its diet consists of insects, beetles and caterpillars, with some worms and a tiny amount of slugs and snails. It forages in the early evening looking for insects, myriapods, gastropods, batrachians (amphibians), small vertebrates and plants. It may even eat snakes or other vertebrates by curling up to protect its underside as it eats the struggling prey. They prefer to live near a water source. The long-eared Hedgehog is active throughout much of the year and hibernates for shorter periods of time, the longest reported hibernation is 40 days. This hibernation may come in the summer or the winter. Also this Hedgehog will travel up to 9 km during the night in search of food.

2013 ARGALI (OVIS AMMON)

The argali, or the mountain sheep  is a wild sheep that roams the highlands of Central Asia (Himalaya, Tibet, Altay). They are a species of mountainous areas, living from elevations of 300 to 5,800 m. Argalis live in herds typically numbering between two and 150 animals, segregated by sex, except during breeding season.

It is the largest species of wild sheep. The North American bighorn sheep may approach comparable weights but is normally considerably outsized by the argali. Argali stand 85-135 cm high at the shoulder and measure 136-200 cm long from the head to the base of the tail. The female, or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100 kg and the rams typically from 97 to 328 kg, with a maximum reported mass of 356 kg.

Males have two large corkscrew horns, some measuring 190 cm in total length and weighing up to 23 kg. Males use their horns for competing with one another. Females also carry horns, but they are much smaller, usually measuring less than 50 cm in total length. Argali reach breeding maturity at two to three years of age. Rutting may occur from October to mid-January, generally lasting longer in lower elevations. In rutting herds, both rams and ewes attack others of their own sex, exerting dominance by ramming each other with their horns. Although such groups engage in lamb-like play, the combat of a pair of mature males is a serious business. The rams slam into each other, with their fore legs up in the air, exerting enough force to be heard up to 800 m away. Often, the older males (over six years of age), which are also often the largest, end up the dominant ones and younger males are chased off once the ewes are in estrus.

Argali are considered an endangered or threatened species throughout their entire range, due largely to habitat loss from overgrazing of domestic sheep and hunting. As the world’s largest sheep, the lure to gather a trophy specimen is strong among sports-hunters. They are hunted for both their meat and their horns, used in traditional Chinese medicine, and poaching continues to be a major (and difficultly managed) problem.

2014 PALLAS’S CAT (OTOCOLOBUS MANUL)

Pallas’s cats are native to the steppe regions of Central Asia, where they inhabit elevations of up to 5,050 m in the Tibetan Plateau. They also inhabit some parts of Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and occur across much of western China. They also are found in the Transbaikal regions of Russia, and less frequently, in the Altai, Tyva, and Buryatia Republics.

Pallas’s cats are solitary. Both males and females scent mark their territory. They spend the day in caves, rock crevices, or marmot burrows, and emerge in the late afternoon to begin hunting. They are not fast runners, and hunt primarily by ambush or stalking, using low vegetation and rocky terrain for cover. They feed largely on diurnally active prey species such as gerbils, pikas, voles and chukar partridges, and sometimes catch young marmots.

The Pallas’s cat is about the size of a domestic cat, its body is 46 to 65 cm long and its tail is 21 to 31 cm long. It weighs 2.5 to 4.5 kg . The combination of its stocky posture and long, dense fur makes it appear stout and plush. Its fur is ochre with dark vertical bars on the torso and forelegs. The winter coat is greyer and less patterned than the summer coat. The legs are proportionately shorter than those of other cats, the ears are set very low and wide apart, and it has unusually short claws. The face is shortened compared with other cats, giving it a flattened face. The pupils are circular. The shorter jaw has fewer teeth than is typical among cats, with the first pair of upper premolars missing, but the canine teeth are large.

The manul has long been hunted for its fur in relatively large numbers in China, Mongolia, and Russia, although international trade in manul pelts has largely ceased since the late 1980s. About 1,000 hunters of Pallas’s cats are in Mongolia, with a mean estimated harvest of two cats per year. Cats are also shot because they can be mistaken for marmots, which are commonly hunted, and trapped incidentally in leghold traps set for wolves and foxes and snares set for marmots and hares.

2015 CAMPBELLS HAMSTER (PHODOPUS CAMPBELLI)

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster, named after its discoverer back in 1902, is native to China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russian Federation. They inhabit burrows in the steppes and semideserts, containing four to six horizontal and vertical tunnels that can be as deep as 1 m below the ground and are lined with either dry grass or sheep’s wool.

They have five main predators: the Eurasian eagle owl, the steppe eagle, the corsac fox, the common kestrel, and the saker falcon. All distribution areas have more females than males, because males are at higher risk from predators, as they cannot move as quickly. Campbell’s dwarf hamsters are omnivores, and so feed on both plant and insect material.

Campbell’s dwarf hamster has cheek pouches, which are an extension of the mouth, extending from the mouth all the way to the rear legs. Food is transferred into these pouches through the diastema. The inside of the pouch contains a large number of folds of dermal papillae. When the pouch is full, it extends and becomes part of the structure of the skin. By 11 days of age, the cheek pouches are fully grown and can carry objects up to the size of a sunflower seed. When the cheek pouches become full, they extend back to the shoulder blades, which restrict movement.

The lips and cheeks have white fur and the rest of the fur around the face can be either grey or brown. A dark and narrow dorsal stripe runs along the center of the back from the nape of the neck to about 2.5 cm (0.98 in) above the tail. The surface of the hands and feet are white to ensure the animal stays warm in colder climates in countries.

2016 SAKER FALCON (FALCO CHERRUG)

The Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) is a large migratory hierofalcon that breeds from eastern Europe eastwards across Asia to Manchuria. It’s almost as large as a gyrfalcon (47-55 cm), with a wingspan of 105-129 cm.

The saker falcon is a raptor of open grasslands preferably with some trees or cliffs. It often hunts by horizontal pursuit, rather than the peregrine’s stoop from a height, and feeds mainly on rodents and birds. In Europe, ground squirrels and feral pigeons are the most common prey items. This species usually builds no nest of its own, but lays its 3–6 eggs in an old stick nest in a tree which was previously used by other birds such as storks, ravens or buzzards. It also often nests on cliffs.

Saker falcons have brown upperbellies and contrasting grey flight feathers. The head and underparts are paler brown, with streaking from the breast down. Males (called sakrets in falconry) and females are similar, as are young birds, although these tend to be a duller brown. The call is a sharp kiy-ee.

BirdLife International categorises this bird as endangered, due to a rapid population decline, particularly on the central Asian breeding grounds. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United Arab Emirates have been the main destination for thousands of falcons caught and sold illegally for hefty sums at the black market. Kazakhstan is estimated to lose up to 1,000 saker falcons per year. The species also faces pressure from habitat loss and destruction. The population was estimated to be between 7,200 and 8,800 mature individuals in 2004. In the United States there are several captive breeding projects. There are currently several successful breeding projects by falconers in Canada. The most dramatic decline of the saker falcon in Asia has been in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In contrast, a strongly protected and relatively abundant population persists in Hungary.

2017 SABLE (MARTES ZIBELLINA)

The Sable is a species of Pine Marten that inhabits forests across much of Russia, eastern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, China, North and South Korea and Hokkaidō in Japan. This small carnivorous mammal measures between 35-56 cm in body length and have a tail measuring up to a further 12 cm. They weigh between 880 to 1,800 when fully grown.

They are famed for their fur which ranges from light to dark brown, with individual fur color being lighter ventrally and darker on the back and legs. Sables greatly resemble pine martens in size and appearance, but have more elongated heads, longer ears and proportionately shorter tails. Their skulls are similar to those of pine martens, but are larger and more robust.

Sables inhabit dense forests dominated by spruce, pine, larch, cedar, and birch in both lowland and mountainous terrain. They defend home territories that may be anything from 4 to 30 square kilometres in size, depending on the local terrain and availability of food. However, when resources are scarce they may move considerable distances in search of food, with travel rates of 6 to 12 kilometres per day having been recorded. Sables live in burrows near riverbanks and in the thickest parts of woods. These burrows are commonly made more secure by being dug among tree roots. They are good climbers of cliffs and trees. They are primarily crepuscular, hunting during the hours of twilight, but become more active in the day during the mating season. Their dens are well hidden, and lined by grass and shed fur, but may be temporary, especially during the winter, when the animal travels more widely in search of prey.

Sables are omnivores, and their diet varies seasonally. In the summer, they eat large numbers of hares and other small mammals. In winter, when they are confined in their retreats by frost and snow, they feed on wild berries, rodents, hares, and even small musk deer. They also hunt ermine, small weasels and birds. Sometimes, sables follow the tracks of wolves and bears and feed on the remains of their kills. They eat molluscs such as slugs, which they rub on the ground in order to remove the mucus. Sables also occasionally eat fish, which they catch with their front paws. They hunt primarily by sound and scent, and they have an acute sense of hearing. Sables mark their territory with scent produced in glands on the abdomen. Predators on the sable include a number of larger carnivores, such as wolves, foxes, wolverines, tigers, lynxes, eagles and large owls.

SILVER PACKAGING AND MINIGOLD OBVERSE

Packaging for the series until recently has been non-existent. Previously supplied just in a capsule with a Certificate of Authenticity, it wasn’t what the series deserved given the prices these soon sold for after release. Thankfully that all changed a couple of years ago with the tenth anniversary of the Tiffany Art series. In 2015 we saw CIT introduce customised wooden boxes for most of their mid to high end releases and you can see the one for the 2016 Saker Falcon above. The gold coin doesn’t come with one.

The whole series has a common obverse design, the Mongolian national emblem, and denomination with some Mongolian script. At the bottom is the issuer and composition in English. As the date is carried on the reverse side, there really are no changes from year to year.

SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
500 TOGROG 0.9999 GOLD 0.5 g 11.0 mm PROOF 15,000 NO / YES
500 TOGROG 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 38.61 mm ANTIQUE 2,500 YES / YES

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