SUBJECT :A four day butterfly survey in the Nilgiris by the Tamil Nadu forest department concluded on Sunday. The butterfly survey, which commenced on October 11 at Cairnhill ectourism centre in Ooty, was conducted after a gap of 30 years in the district. 

Members of the team involved in the survey in the Nilgiris

Udhagamandalam, October 15, 2018: A four day butterfly survey in the Nilgiris by the Tamil Nadu forest department concluded on Sunday. The butterfly survey, which commenced on October 11 at Cairnhill ectourism centre in Ooty, was conducted after a gap of 30 years in the district. The survey added three new species to the Nilgiris. In 1986, entomologist Larsen Torben conducted a butterfly survey in the Nilgiris and documented about 301 varities within a span of six months.

District forest officer Sumesh Soman said, “Now the similar activity was carried out. Hence,to honour  him, we named the survey exercise as ‘ Larsen Memorial Butterfly Survey’ of the Nilgiris.”

The survey was conducted in association with Wynter-Blyth Association (WBA) in the Nilgiris, Tranvancore Nature History (TNHS) and Banglore Butterfly Club besides students from the Wildlife Biology Department of the Government Arts College, Ooty.

With 15 base camps identified in the Nilgiris, the exercise covered all elevations and habitats in the hill district. During the survey, 198 species of butterflies among which three new species were recorded. The new species are Pale Green Awlet, Extra Lascar and many Tailed Oak Blue, while Sitala Ace ( Thoressa sitala sitala) has been rediscovered in the Nilgiris after many decades of absence, according to Sumesh Soman.

The confirmed finding of 198 species of butterflies include the largest butterfly of the country ‘ Southern Birdwing’ and the smallest one ‘Grass Jewel’ besides other species such as Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Lycaenidae, Riodinindae and Hesperiidae.

“Eighteen species need further investigation and confirmation. The highest number of butterfly species count was at Kunjappanai camp with 97 species followed by 75 species each in Banagudi Shola and Nilgiri foothills near Kallar,” said Sumesh Soman.

According to the DFO, these kind of scientific exercise are very important for loco-regional conservation and the data generated would be utilized for management of the forests of the Nilgiris. The forest department in association with the WBA will come out with a book on the butterflies of the Nilgiris to create awareness about these beautiful creatures.

Kalesh Sadasivan of Travancore Nature History Society suggested that this kind of iniatives should be pursued in futher to give an awareness of nature conservation. He stressed the need for follow-up surveys in days to come to have a baseline data for effective environmental monitoring.

Emphasizing the importance of butterflies as ecological indicators, assistant professor B  Ramakrishnan said, “ Butterflies are critical indicators of environmental quality and similar surveys should be initiated to assess the status of other flora and fauna in the region.”

The three-day field study was compiled scientifically on the concluding day at Cairnhill in Ooty.


Source: indiatimes.com