Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wings of change

Jalaji Ramanunni July 31, 2008

Remember the little girl from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses—covered from head to foot with butterflies such that she looked like she was clothed in their gold and silver dust?

The closest you can come to understanding what that feels like is inside the newly-opened Butterfly Dome at Bannerghatta National Park. Set up in 2007, the park has only now become functional.

As you enter, you could well wonder at the leaves flying all around you. Then you notice them fluttering their wings, one of the defence mechanisms butterflies use to deal with predators. In fact, as we found out, their appearance has a lot to do with their survival.

You can learn this, and more, at the Butterfly Park, spread over 7.5 acres of land. It comprises a butterfly conservatory, a museum and an audio-visual room.

The dome is a circular enclosure, with a butterfly-shaped gate, in which the living environment has been carefully designed to suit the insects’ lifestyle.

It has an artificial waterfall, host plants that attract these butterflies, and a humid climate, creating a tropical environment. It connects you to another dome which exhibits different kinds of butterflies, and the various stages in their lives. The park is filled with a host plants that butterflies can feed on.

Entry to the labs, where butterflies are bred, is restricted. Some butterflies are chosen and freed into the dome for a few days. The park is home to nearly 20 different species including endangered species like Crimson rose and Blue mormon.

Enthusiasts at the Butterfly Park museum
Enthusiasts at the Butterfly Park museum
“Butterflies are most active on warm and sunny days. They are very sensitive to temperature. The heat of the sun helps in digesting their food well. When it rains, they hide in flowers and leaves,” says Rupali G. Kulkarni, an entomologist here.

“If you wear light or bright coloured clothes with floral patterns, the butterflies get fooled and might land on you. But their wings get damaged if you touch them.”

More than 100 species of the Indian butterfly are said to be under threat. They fall prey to rampant butterfly smuggling because of their decorative qualities. These are issues often discussed by the online community—butterflyindia. The Bangalore wing of the group often meets up at the Butterfly Park in Bangalore, while simultaneous meets are held in Kolkata.

Vidya Rao, a member of the Bangalore Butterfly Club, remembers her earlier experiences watching butterflies, something that got her interested enough to do a course in entomology.

This endeavour to create a special habitat for butterflies is a first of its kind in India. Although not too many people in Bangalore are aware of its existence, the park is already a big hit with children. To get in touch with Vidya Rao visit the website www.ecoorgsindia.


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Blogger jal said...

hi... :) it's actually jalajA ramanunni

11:16 AM  

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