Doyang, March 11, 2015: Fluttering flights on brightly coloured wings are synonymous with butterflies that are such a beautiful and intrinsic part of our eco-system. Considered as one of the significant creatures of nature, butterflies play a huge role in continuing the life cycle on this planet. They also form as an important food source for many insects, birds, spiders, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, among others.
Like all other creatures, these vibrant beings are witnessing a drastic drop in their numbers owing to increasing anthropogenic activities in their natural habitats. A dwindling population of butterflies could create a huge imbalance in our ecosystem which would be difficult to reverse. Well aware of these repercussions, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in association with Charities Aid Foundation has implemented a Rapid Action Project (RAP) with W Oponthung Jami, a local resident of Wokha, around Doyang Reservoir under Sungro Range in Nagaland. This area boasts of a high concentration of different species of butterflies and such initiatives to document them are a great resource for those trying to understand the area and its rich biodiversity.
A first of its kind, this RAP focused on sensitizing locals on butterflies that inhabit the Doyang Reservoir and urged them to protect and conserve them. Moreover, awareness campaigns targeting students were initiated for conservation of wildlife and their habitat. Famously known as the Amur falcon capital of India, this area also has a substantial number of elephants which makes this exercise even more crucial.
Butterflies are bio-indicators and a study to document them was crucial to assess the habitat and understand their interrelationship with the surrounding environment. “The role that insects, especially butterflies, play in the eco-system hardly comes into the limelight. It is high time, the concerned stakeholders should initiate protection and conservation measures to sustain their population in the area,” says WO Jami.
Moreover, an awareness campaign that focused on butterfly conservation near Pangti village in Wokha district was initiated by directly engaging the young. Awareness camp was held with the NCC (National Cadet Corps) in October 2014 with nearly 50 cadets from Government High School, Sungro. These students were from the fringe villages of the Doyang Reservoir. An awareness camp was held for a small Women Self Help Group from Aasha Village in November 2014 wherein conservation of butterflies and related species were discussed in great detail.
Such awareness campaigns ensure round the year protection to these sites and not only during the months when Amur falcons come here to roost. Direct involvement of people in conservation activities ensure that they become stakeholders in protecting the flora and fauna of the area. This RAP also involved photo-identification of different species of butterflies so that the actual number of various species can be documented.
“One of the very first interactions children may have with wild animals in life is with butterflies, which is why we ensured that this project involved creating awareness amongst children. It is up to us as adults to instil wonder, curiosity and respect among children for wildlife so they understand how intrinsically we are all linked together in nature,” says Radhika Bhagat, Head, Wild Aid.