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Nagarahole butterflies to be counted

Express News Service

BENGALURU: For the first time, the state Forest Department officials in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve (NTR) will undertake a butterfly census and prepare a checklist. If all goes fine, the reserve could soon have its own flagship butterfly.

The exercise has come at a time when the Central government is looking for a national butterfly. Karnataka already has its own state butterfly — the Southern Birdwing (Troides Minos). It is the largest butterfly species, is endemic to South India, and resembles the colours of the state flag. 

While the department decided to undertake the exercise of revision of the flora and avifauna checklist, it has also decided to create a butterfly checklist, starting from October 8, to June-July 2021, and two seasons will be covered under the census.

The survey is being done at  a time when Bandipur Tiger Reserve is also undertaking a large herbivore census. The first briefing for both the census were held on September 3 at the tiger reserve. 

“The first checklist of flora and avifauna was prepared 10 years ago and it is being revised now. A butterfly checklist is being created for the first time. It is out of interest to make the staffers more knowledgeable and to create more awareness in wildlife.

A lot of importance is given to large taxa, but there are other species which need attention. Butterflies are very important for pollination and hence it was decided to undertake this study,” NTR Director, Mahesh Kumar, told The New Indian Express. 

The department is taking the help of National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore Butterfly Group, and College of Forestry, Ponnampet. “If all goes well, then, depending on the information received during the butterfly assessment, the tiger reserve could also have its own flagship butterfly,” Mahesh added.

He explained that the work of preparing the butterfly checklist and revising the flora and avifauna checklist has been divided among the eight ranges. “Since the last 10 years, not much has changed in terms of flora and avifauna of the reserve, except for some shrub species. The assessment will only help in better planning, ascertaining threats, and understanding conservation issues to improve the tiger reserve,” he added.

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