Survey records a rise in butterfly species

A butterfly survey at the Peechi-Vazhani wildlife division has recorded a remarkable increase in the species’ numbers. Southern Birdwing, the largest butterfly in India, and Grass Jewel, the smallest, were found during the survey. Buddha Peacock, the State butterfly of Kerala, was also recorded.

A total of 156 butterfly species, out of the 326 found in Kerala, were recorded in the 242 sq km division.

The four-day butterfly survey was conducted by the Kerala Forest Department and Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS) Thiruvananthapuram.

The Peechi-Vazhany, Chimmony, and Chulannur Wildlife Sanctuaries were surveyed using 14 base camps. Around 35 delegates from NGOs such as TNHS, Wynter-Blyth Association(WBA), Green Roots, Green Cap, and students from Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU), and 50 forest officials of the Peechi wildlife division took part in the scientific exercise.

Invasive species

“The survey marks the beginning of a series of biodiversity assessments to prepare a new management plan for the region. It has a specific section targeting invasive species that are a threat to the indigenous biodiversity,” said P.M. Prabhu, Wildlife Warden, Peechi.

Peechi-Vazhany Wildlife sanctuary had 132 species of butterflies, Chimmony had 116 species, while Chulannur recorded 41 species. The survey added 80 species, almost double, to the older record of Peechi-Vazhany, 33 to Chimmony, and 41 species to Chulannur.

Other notable species are Nilgiri Grass Yellow, Travancore Evening Brown, Malabar Flash, Orange Tailed Awl, Southern Spotted Ace and Common Onyx. The report of Common Tinsel at Chulannur was another highlight. Altitudinal migration of Common Albatross was recorded in Chimmony.

The wildlife division had 23 species of butterflies red-listed by the IUCN. Sixty-three species were protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Birds, reptiles

The survey teams also recorded birds, odonates, reptiles, amphibians, and spiders. A total of 152 bird species were recorded in Peechi-Vazhany, in Chimmony and 77 in Chulannur.

Great Indian Hornbill, the State bird of Kerala, was reported from Peechi-Vazhany and Chimmony. The highest number of birds were reported from Vellani (104) in Vazhany, followed by Vallikayam in Peechi.

The survey also added 11 species of odonates, taking the total number of species in Peechi Wildlife Division to 83.

The sanctuary has a good population of Bengal tiger, gaur, elephants, dhole, and flying squirrels. Around 25 species of spiders, 50 species of moths, 15 species of ants, four species of cicadas, six species of mantids, six species of amphibians, and 10 species of reptiles.

The teams also noted the presence of invasive plants and ants in the region.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:33:24 PM |

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