A survey conducted by the Department of Forests and Wildlife has found rare species of butterflies in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary. The presence of Baby Five-ring, Bright Babul Blue, Blue Oakleaf, Cornelian and Coorg Forest Hopper is mainly because of the natural ecosystem in areas close to the Idukki lake. “It’s a very positive sign,” said Dr. Unni Krishnan Pulikkal of Butterfly Art Foundation of India, who led the survey. Most of the rare species were found in the virgin shola forest areas of the sanctuary near the Idukki dam.

Ecosystems

A major finding was that there were different ecosystems congenial to the growth of these species, Dr. Krishnan said.

Baby Five-ring (Ypthima tabella) is one of the rarest butterflies found in Kerala. “It has been found only in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Myanmar, that too very rarely,” Dr. Krishnan said.

The presence of Bright Babul Blue (Azanus ubaldus) in Idukki is rather surprising because this is the first time the species are found from the western slope of the Western Ghats, far away from the dry eastern slope that is its natural home.

Cornelian (Deudorix epijarbas), Southern Blue Oakleaf (Kallima horsfieldi) and Coorg Forest Hopper (Arnetta mercara) have been found sporadically from other parts of the State.

A survey of invertebrates carried out by the Zoological Survey of India last week had found the presence of Malabar Flash (Rapala lankana) and Golden Tree-flitter (Quedara basiflava). The total number of butterflies spotted in the sanctuary is now 148.

The survey was done by Dr.Unni Krishnan Pulikkal and Arun T.P. of the Butterfly Art Foundation with the operational support of K.Saji, Wildlife Warden and G.Jayachandran, Assistant Wildlife Warden, of the sanctuary.

The survey was conducted during the third week of March. Dr. Krishnan said the survey underlined the need for protecting such fragile ecosystems.