Borewells, ponds, and plants expected to maintain ecological balance

Touted as the first of its kind in Tamil Nadu, the tropical butterfly conservatory in Srirangam is taking shape with phase-I of the project proceeding in full swing.

Planned on 25 acres at the Upper Anicut reserve forest situated between the Cauvery and the Coleroon, the conservatory will encompass outdoor and indoor conservatories, breeding laboratory, shade net house, interpretation facilities, host plant farm, and facilities for visitors.

At present, the outdoor conservatory works, including construction of a huge boundary wall around the facility and ramps at the entrance, are being carried out with the Rs. 1.5 crore fund allocated by the State government.

Construction of the 1-km-long compound wall is nearing completion, say officials of the Forest Department, which is building the park.

Six borewells had been sunk for watering the host / nectar plants planted inside the conservatory. The aim is to foster conservation of butterfly species and educate public about the role played by these plants in maintaining the ecological balance .

A pond has been created inside to enhance the beauty of the conservatory, and make it appear a natural habitat. Creation of lawns and floral patches are the other works currently underway . Seedlings of various tree species have been kept ready for planting to enhance the green cover.

Major works planned in the second phase include indoor conservatory, ‘nakshatra vanam’, and walkways. Tender for the indoor conservatory works is expected to be floated next month, say officials.

A committee that included experts from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and Coimbatore-based Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding designed the conservator.

The indoor butterfly conservatory will simulate natural butterfly habitats with its roofs and sides covered by polycarbonate sheets. The controlled temperature is expected to ensure suitable microclimate within the indoor conservatory inside which suitable nectar and roosting plants would be planted.

The ‘nakshatra vanam' will feature 27 number of trees/ plants species corresponding to 27 stars of the Hindu almanac and 12 trees / plants species corresponding to 12 zodiac signs.

Being set up at a cost of Rs. 8.6 crore, the conservatory is expected to be ready by the end of the current fiscal, say officials.

The conservatory would have about 50 butterfly species, including plain tiger, crimson tip, lemon pansy, striped tiger, and common jezebel.