Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Palmking butterfly sighted

The Palmking butterfly

The Palmking butterfly, a variety rarely found in India, has been sighted at the Shenduruny wildlife sanctuary by a group of lepidopterists who had gathered there for the Western Ghats Butterfly India Meet during the first week of June.

The meet was jointly organised by the nature groups Warblers and Waders and the Butterfly India Group.

The male butterfly was sighted on the morning of June 2 in the Kattilappara area of the sanctuary and was seen resting on a marshy patch of land full of reeds. Lepidopterist C. Susanth, who led the group, told The-Hindu that the but terfly lovers spent more than an hour observing and photographing the Palmking.

“This is the third sighting of the Palmking in India. It was in the year 2000 that this butterfly was seen at Palode by B.V. Premkrishnan, member of the Warblers and Waders. Then it was sighted at Shenduruny in 2002. All these three sightings were of a male butterfly. It is very difficult to spot this shy butterfly. It was almost like a miracle. I was present during all three sightings,” he said. The Palmking is endemic to Southeast Asia and breeds in palm trees.

Other species

Warblers and Waders are preparing to carry out further studies in different parts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts to try and find out whether the Palmking is present in any other location.

In all, the lepidopterists were able to spot 85 species of butterflies during their stay at Shenduruny.

These include the Cruiser, Dark Wanderer, Black-vein Sergeant, Red Spot Duke, Southern Duffer, Tri-colour Pied Flat, Orange Awl, Autumn Leaf, Tamil Oakblue and the Aberrant Oakblue.



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Friday, June 08, 2007

Closer look at wildlife crime

Madhur Tankha

REAL THREAT: A still from `Turtles in a Soup'.

NEW DELHI: The British High Commission will screen seven short documentaries on wildlife crime at its premises here this Tuesday to mark World Environment Day.

On the same day last year, the High Commission had announced seven fellowships under the UK Environment Film Fellowships to make documentaries on endangered species. These films are now ready to be shown to wildlife lovers. The special preview of the films is on bears, butterflies, elephants, leopards, marine corals, tigers and turtles. Under the law, the Indian sloth bear is entitled to the same protection as the tiger. Yet crimes against it are committed openly across the country as bears are made to dance. To show how this crime can be brought to an end, filmmaker Ashima Narain has made "The Last Dance". In the film, the filmmaker undertakes an undercover operation and witnesses the surrender of a dancing bear.

According to wildlife experts, tiger has the best chance to survival in India but even here its future looks most uncertain than ever before. "The Hunted" made by Jay Mazoomdaar seeks hope for curbing the tiger trade by offering the tribal hunters a new way of life.

The diversity of freshwater turtle species in the country is one of the richest in the world. However, today most of them are heading towards extinction. Kalpana Subramanian's "Turtles in a Soup" is the untold story of the illegal trade of freshwater turtles.

The elephant has been revered in India for centuries. Yet the survival of the elephant is under threat today for a variety of reasons. Film "The Silenced Witness" by the Wildscreen award winning directorial team -- Radha.R and P.Balan -- highlight the reasons why the elephant is increasing facing threat.

Today the coral reefs are under major threat. A motivational film "Diminishing Resources" by Himanshu Malhotra seeks to sensitise the audiences to these invisible crimes.Focusing on the crimes against butterflies is Sonia Kapoor's film "Once there was a Purple Butterfly". The disappearance of these pollinators could affect all life forms on earth, including man.

Gurmeet Sapal's "Leopards in the Lurch" captures the beauty and their threatened existence in the Himalayas.


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Butterflies becoming extinct due to poaching for trade

New Delhi, Jun 6: While the death of a tiger or a lion attracts worldwide attention, small winged beauties like butterflies, which are an indespensable pollinator for vital agricultural crops, are becoming extinct unnoticed.

Illegal trade in these small species is as much thriving as in tiger parts and ivory. One butterfly fetches Rs 500 to the poacher.

Thailand is the hub of the international trade in butterflies, which are killed and dried to be used in greeting cards, books and other decorative purposes.

'Once There Was a Purple Butterfly'--a film produced under the United Kingdom Environment Film Fellowship--focusses attention to the threat to survival of these species.

The film made by Sonia Kapur was screened here yesterday on the occasion of the World Environment Day.

Sonia's trail of the butterflies led her first to interiors of Kerala and then to north east, regions which have a large number of people making their living out of killing butterflies.

''I was led on their trail after reading an article about them.

The interior parts of Kerala and areas in the North east were once home to a large variety of butterflies but now out of the 1500 species, about 400 have already become extinct due to large scale poaching for commercial purposes,'' she told UNI.

The trade in butterflies is absolutely illegal both in India and Thailand but it goes on unchecked, which was a great pity, said Sonia.

''During our research, we found that besides poaching, one more cause of threat to their survival was the use of pesticide on plants, she said.

Sonia feels it was high time that the authorities and the civil society in general recognised the importance of the existence of butterflies, without which no foodgrain production was possible as they were the prime pollinators for agricultural crops.

''One should take lesson from the case of America which had to import live butterflies to release them in their environment for acting as pollinators,'' she said.

She said the main aim of her documentary, which she shot within a month, was to shake the government into action to save the species from extinction.

Sonia took the help of various NGOs like the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) and experts in the fieldlike Dr Chandrashekhar of Bangalore in her research for the film.

The film on butterflies is the first wildlife work of Sonia. She has earlier made films on the problem of terrorism in the Nortn east and women undertrials in the Tihar Jail.

Besides Sonia's films, other works produced under the UK Environment fellowship and screened yesterday were ' The Last dance' by Ashima Narain, the Hunted by Jay Mazoomdar, 'Turtle ia Soup' by Kalpna Subramaniam, 'The Silenced Witness' by P Balan and Radha R, 'Diminishing Resources' by Himanshu Malhotra and Sabina Kidwai and 'Leopards in the Lurch' by Gurmeet Sapal.

--- IANS


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