Missing butterflies in India – 05/17/2005

  • October 23, 2013 at 2:12 am #689

    TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2005 09:26:53 PM ]

    When was the last time you saw them in your garden? Delhi Times on
    the vanishing species…

    * The economic value of pollination by butterflies to agriculture is
    $200 billion dollars per year

    * Stuffed in suitcases or envelopes, butterflies are smuggled to
    Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK, Taiwan, Singapore

    * In Himachal, N-E states, Uttaranchal, children are paid Rs 150 per
    day to catch butterflies

    * For every perfect butterfly collected by smugglers, atleast 1,000
    are thrown away because their wings are crushed

    * Dead butterflies are used as wall hangings, earrings, decorative
    items; students paste butterflies in albums

    * Pesticides like Aldrin, Endosulfan, DDT and Malathion are killing
    The warning bells are ringing. India’s butterfly population is
    dwindling fast. Thanks to a thriving smuggling industry, the Atlas
    moth of the Khasi Hills is almost extinct, and exotic species like
    the Copper Butterfly, Swallowtail, Purple Emperor, Bhutan Glory and
    Malabar are in danger.

    “Of the thousands of butterfly species in India, less than a thousand
    remain. Atleast a hundred species are on the brink of extinction,”
    says animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi. “A fall in the population
    of butterflies means a decrease in the number of their predators, and
    an increase for their prey.” Informs wildlife conservationist Mike
    Pandey: “Butterflies are the second largest pollinators in the world
    after honey bees. As the population of butterflies declines, so too
    will the agriculture industry. This has happened in the US.”


    * Smugglers : Butterfly collectors feed a global butterfly smuggling
    industry, of which the Atlas Moth is a victim. Websites offer framed
    butterflies to collectors while claiming these creatures are farm-
    bred. “But the fact is, butterflies can’t be bred on farms,” says
    Mike. Adds Maneka: “The methods used to catch butterflies are so
    crude that for every perfect specimen, at least 1,000 are thrown

    * Habitat loss : While most butterflies thrive in tropical forests,
    species like the Purple Emperor suffer from the depletion of forest
    cover. And that’s not all. “The plants they fed on have disappeared
    along with butterflies that have become extinct,” says Maneka.

    * Pesticide usage : “Pesticides like Aldrin, Endosulfan, affect
    butterflies and humans,” says Mike. Adds Maneka: “DDT and Malathion
    not only kill 30,000 Indians annually through direct poisoning, they
    have also killed many species of plants, birds and insects.”


    * More greenery, less pesticides : According to Isaac Kehimkar of the
    Bombay Natural History Society: “An increase in the native tree cover
    and reduction in the usage of pesticides can help butterflies. Also,
    people should be encouraged to maintain natural gardens which sustain
    life forms rather than sterilised gardens.”

    * Better anti-smuggling patrolling : “Staff of GPOs and customs
    departments must be on the lookout for smugglers. Besides, people
    must desist from buying decorative items like framed butterflies, and
    colleges shouldn’t encourage the collection of dead specimens.”

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