Kerala

Chinnar, the paradise of butterflies

A two-year-long survey of butterflies in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary has spotted 84 new species, raising the total number of butterfly species in the 90.44-sq-km sanctuary to 240.

The new survey has raised the number of butterfly species in the region to 240, from the earlier 156 species, based on photographic evidence and direct sightings.

Munnar Wildlife Warden G. Prasad told The Hindu that the survey was initiated by the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department in collaboration with the Travancore Natural History Society and Kottayam Nature Society.

According to him, the whole area was surveyed using strategic base camps and all the available trails were meticulously covered, throwing light upon the population dynamics, seasonality, and abundance of butterflies.

The participants surveyed and tracked butterflies meticulously from the five base camps of Olikudi, Mangapara, Alampetty, Churulipetty, and Chungam. All the altitudes from 500 to 2,000 metres were covered and it included all the vegetation and habitats of the sanctuary.

Major findings

Mr. Prasad said the noteworthy findings were the Palni or Davison’s Bushbrown (Mycalesis davisoni), which is an endemic butterfly seen only in and around the Palani hills, and Nilgiri Tit (Hypolycaena nilgirica), a rare butterfly species found in the biodiversity hotspots of Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. As per the available records, it was the British scientist Frederick Moore who had spotted the Nilgiri Tit in Kerala way back in 1883. Moreover, the sighting of Nilgiri Tit in Kerala was recorded only in Chinnar, Mr. Prasad said.

Sighting of the largest butterfly in India, the Southern Birdwing, and the smallest butterfly, Grass Jewel, were also recorded during the survey. The survey also rediscovered the Palni Dart, an uncommon skipper butterfly of Palani region. Other important discoveries were Shot Siverline, Tinsel, Common Banded Peacock, Indian Awlking, Orange-tailed Awl, Orange Awlet, Vindhyan Bob, and the Spot Puffin.

Gateway

Mr. Prasad said one of the major highlights of the surveys was the delineation of the migratory pathways of butterflies. Chinnar can be aptly called the gateway of butterflies from Tamil Nadu plains to Kerala, he said.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 4:28:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Chinnar-the-paradise-of-butterflies/article16743768.ece

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