Amid lush greenery, and the strange heaviness of unpolluted air, the State’s first private butterfly park was inaugurated on Sunday. However, disappointment was in store for the amateur and professional Lepidopterologists (butterfly enthusiasts) who had gathered from across the country at Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park, Belvai in Mangalore taluk, as incessant rains made it almost impossible to spot the thousands of colourful winged insects living in the 7.35-acre sanctuary their home.

At the foothills of the Kantawara forests in Belvai, the park is home to 114 species of butterflies – some endemic to the Western Ghats. This was the brainchild of the hospital management lecturer Sammilan Shetty, who spent more than Rs. 5 lakh to plant nectar-rich floras that attract and encourage breeding of butterflies.

The two-year effort, which makes the park only the second such privately-run park in the country, even drew praise from the researchers from Bombay Natural History Society.

Fittingly, the person who inaugurated the programme is also the author of a comprehensive book on butterflies that inspired the project. Mr. Shetty said the idea and know-how of setting up such a park for conservation came from Isaac Kehimkar’s book, ‘The Book of Indian Butterflies’.

“Butterflies are just an excuse, and the park actually spreads love for nature. This will go a long way in the conservation of butterflies and Western Ghats species,” said Mr. Kehimkar, who is the General Manager (Programmes) at BNHS.

Similarly, N.A. Madyasthya, Member of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board, emphasised the importance of the winged creature, calling their presence an important indicator of the health of the eco-system – as their numbers is proportional to the quality of greenery around.

“If Niddodi [Ultra Mega Power] project comes up a few kilometres away from here, the butterfly population will be wiped out. The fly ash emitted will coat the leaves in the area, and the butterfly cannot lay eggs on these leaves,” he said.

Lambasting the proposed power project for its speculated adverse impact on the environment, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said the park is a small step to converse the bio-diversity of the region.

Public viewing

The park is open only on Sundays between 8.30 am to 12.30 p.m., with the trip beginning with a presentation by Mr. Shetty. Initially, the tours will be free of charge. For details, log on to butterflyparkbelvai.com.

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