The first ever comprehensive butterfly survey held in the Munnar wildlife division has spotted as many as 206 new species. The three-day survey, conducted by the Kerala Forest Department in association with the Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS) and the Kottayam Nature Society (KNS), came to a close on Sunday.
According to G. Prasad, wildlife warden at Munnar, the survey team has systematically reviewed the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the four national parks of Mathikettan Shola, Pampadum Shola, Anamudy Shola and the Kurinjimala wildlife sanctuary. He said 15 strategically located base camps, covering all the habitats, had been set up as part of the survey. Mr. Prasad said the highest number was recorded at Mathikettan Shola with 148 species, closely followed by the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary with 141 species. The Anamudi Shola recorded 94 species and Pampadum Shola had 88 species.
Migration of Common Emigrant, Common Albatross, Common Crow, Double Branded Crow, and Great Eggfly was noted in Chinnar and Kurunjimala sanctuaries. The highlights of the survey in the Shola national parks included Eversheds Ace, Indian Awlking, Nilgiri Four Ring, Broad-tailed Royal, Pale Green Awlet, Sullied Sailor, Dirty Sailor and Anomalous Nawab, he said.
The noteworthy finding from Kurunjimala Sanctuary include the Palani or Davidson’s Bushbrown, which is an endemic butterfly seen only in and around the Palani hills. This grassland species was recorded at Kadavari region.
Mr. Prasad said the largest butterfly in India, Southern Birdwing, was sighted at Kurunjimala and Pampadum Shola and the smallest butterfly, Grass Jewel, was sighted in the Chinnar sanctuary.
The other important sightings at the Kurinjimala were Palni Fritillary, Palni Four-ring, Yellow Striped Hedge Hopper and Nilgiri Clouded Yellow, all endemic butterflies of Western Ghats,
The sightings in Chinnar wildlife sanctuary included the Coorg Forest Hopper which is an endemic butterfly of Western Ghats and Nilgiri Tit, a very rare and exclusive butterfly of low elevation dry habitat, said Mr. Prasad.
With this survey, the checklist of Chinnar wildlife sanctuary has touched 222 butterfly species.