Share a cup of tea, count and learn about the city’s vanishing butterflies

CEC hopes that public involvement in the counting of the butterflies will encourage them to collect data on a regular basis.

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi | Published: August 25, 2017 6:14:03 am
butterfly, delhi butterfly, butterflies, butterfly population, indian express news Public involvement will help track the species. Sohail Madan

It’s no ordinary Sunday morning, neither is it an ordinary breakfast. On September 3, you can sit across the table and share a meal and some laughter with butterflies as the Conservation Education Centre (CEC) is set to host “Breakfast with Butterflies” at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. A series of events, such as a “Caterpillar Walk” in Faridabad and “Butterfly Gardening” workshop at CEC, will lead up to the main event — a butterfly count on September 17.

“According to me, the last accurate study of butterflies in Delhi took place in 1986, when 85 species were counted. Around 30 of these species haven’t been seen in decades. So, the main purpose of this count is to get the real picture,” said Sohail Madan, Centre Manager, CEC.

Dr Faiyaz A Khudsar, wildlife biologist and the scientist-in-charge of Yamuna Biodiversity Park, said, “There are two distinct land forms in Delhi — river Yamuna and associated habitat; and the Delhi Ridge. They have capacity to attract butterflies, so while at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, there are 70-75 species of butterflies, at the Aravali Biodiversity Park, there are more than 100.” The counting is open to the public, and CEC plans on visiting green zones and green campuses of the city, which will be led by experts such as zoologist and JNU professor Surya Prakash and Madan himself.

“We will visit Sanjay Van, IIT Delhi, JNU, Delhi University, Asola Bhatti, IP University and the Ridge, among other such areas. This is peak season anyway, so we will come across some interesting species. The aim is also to involve people in a way that they become ambassadors of butterfly conservation,” said Madan. “After bees, butterflies are the biggest pollinators of fruit crops…they are also good indicators of climate change as an increase or decrease in their number indicates the vitality of the area,” he added.

CEC hopes that public involvement in the counting of the butterflies will encourage them to collect data on a regular basis. “There are many keen bird watchers and data collectors in Delhi…we hope it becomes a norm with butterflies too. We will give identification kits to people for this purpose,” said Madan. This is the first time that CEC is celebrating September as the Month of Butterfly. According to Madan, the programme was conceptualised when the butterfly park at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary was inaugurated in June this year. “We will also file a petition asking the government to declare one specie as the “state butterfly or butterfly of Delhi”, as the title exists in other states,” said Madan.

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