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Ken Betwa Project : Plan to Massacre Millions of Trees Give Goosebumps

 India should  drop the idea  of Ken Betwa  Linking Project (KBLP) which will require felling of  2 to 4  million trees in the emerald forests of Panna national park . Think of the  loss of this staggering  number of trees  in the backdrop of the  unprecedented summers that the country  experienced in the year 2024. Many parts of Bundelkhand where Panna  is situated recorded 49 degrees Celsius while the mercury  soared to 52.9 degrees C in Delhi, later corrected by the government to 50 degrees C (49.9). For a moment forget  the loss of tiger habitat  in the park, think over our own survival. Referring to the  special morphological significance and unique biodiversity of Panna national park, the central empowered committee of the Supreme Court  on the KBLP  observed ," implementing this project would result in the complete breakdown of the evolutionary processes of millions of years." It warned of the widespread ecological devastation.River Ken  is lifeline of  the tiger reser

Big Names, Bright Colours: Bewitching World of Butterflies

As a country-wide exercise is underway to select the national butterfly of India, a dedicated group of naturalists wandering in the Amarkantak biosphere have identified some rare species including Blue Mormonand Crimson rose. So far almost 100 species  of  butterflies  have been identified in the jungles around Anuppur and Shahdol districts.

Considered as the third  biggest butterfly of India,  Blue Mormonor Papilio polymnestor is a fascinating insect. It is a large swallowtail butterfly mostly found in southIndia and Sri Lanka. It is also the state butterfly of Maharashtra. Protected under the Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, the Crimson rose is  mainly found fluttering in the Western Ghats and South Indian hills .The brightly coloured flyers are also flourishing  from the eastern end of the Himalayas to its north-western parts. This is also a common visitor to Indian gardens and can even be found in crowded urban areas. The other butterflies found in the Amarkantak biosphere region also include the beautiful Indian Mapwing (cyrestis thyodamas) , Dead leaf (Kallima inachus), Large Oakblue (Arhopala amantes)  and Gaudy Baron (Euthalia lubentina). 

Treasure Trove of Nature: Amarkantak Biosphere

Amarkantak Sanjay pyasi
All of them are rare species and can be found hovering over the host and nectar bushes and shrubs in the forests of Amarkantak ,a unique natural heritage area and meeting point of the the Vindhya and the Satpura Ranges, with the Maikal hills  being the fulcrum.It is also the place where Narmada , Son and Johila rivers originate.

Also read:Protect This Wildlife Corridor To Save The Ganges

The  bioreserve is very  rich in terms of flora  and microbial  diversity.

Three of the seven competitors -the Dead leaf or the Orange Oak leaf , Common Jezebel and Indian Common Nawab -are found in the Amarkantak biosphere .The Dead leaf is a colorful butterfly species belonging to the nymphalid family and indigenous to various parts of tropical Asia stretching from India to Japan. It's ability to camouflage into dry, dead leaves makes it all the more unique .The Indian Common Nawab is a fast flying butterfly found in tropical Asia while Common Jezebel is a medium - sized butterfly found in many parts of Asia  especially in non -arid regions of India. 

The Seven in Race and the Great Indian Mega -Diversity

Common Nawab Ritesh Khadia
Considered as the front runner, Common Jezebel is most found in Northeastern states, Adaman & Nicobar Islands and Chhattisgarh;the Five-bar swordtail, found in the Northeastern states, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka;Krishna Peacock from West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh;Yellow Gorgon again from the eastern regions of India including Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and  West Bengal; the Common Indian Nawab -it has a pan India presence; Northern Jungle Queen from  Sikkim, Meghalaya,Arunachal Pradesh and the Orange Oakleaf, again the Lepidoptera with pan India presence.

India is one of the 17 mega- diverse countries of the world. It is host to about 1,400 species of butterflies—a spectacular number—with many endemics to the Indian region. This makes India an especially important region for butterfly diversity and conservation.“These delicate creatures are an intricate part of the ecosystem, and act as an important biological indicator in determining the health of the environment”, said Sanjay Payasi, a business administrator and documentary maker who left his lucrative career to work as a naturalist in MP. He also founded Anuppur Nature Club.“ The butterflies may have  started vanishing fast in many urban regions ofIndia  and abandoned our gardens as the host and nectar plants have been replaced by exotic species which do not attract these insects”, he said adding," “ They are still found in abundance in jungles”.

Ravi Shukla of the Forest Protectors group ,Shahdol said,” Infact, butterflies warn us of the changes taking place in nature .This is the reason we have been making efforts for their conservation”. “Butterflies serve as important plant pollinators in the local environment, and help pollinate many important plant crops”, he said.

Also read :The Great Elephant Migration: Can MP Chattisgarh join hands  

Butterfly Poll Of India

Crimson Rose Jagat flora

September ,the Big Butterfly month—witnessed several activities for the conservation of butterflies. It also includes counting of butterflies across India and sharing the count on platforms such as the India Biodiversity Portal, INaturalist, or ifoundbutterflies.  A group of 50 butterfly enthusiasts,researchers, writers, and experts from across the country also led an initiative to select the ‘national butterfly’ of India. And the selection process was meticulously examined by well-known butterfly experts  like Dr Krushnamegh Kunte and Issac Kehimkar.  Initially 50 species of butterflies found across India were shortlisted and were  ranked on the basis of several characteristics. They include : the butterfly should have  national and international cultural,ecological and conservation significance , it should be charismatic, and must have an inherently attractive biological aspect that is engaging to the public;it should be easily identified, observed, and remembered; the species should not have multiple forms; the butterfly caterpillars should not be harmful or a pest; it should not be too common-placed, and nor should it be a species that has already been designated as a state butterfly. Many Indian states including Maharashtra, Kerala ,Tamil Nadu and Karnataka among others have identified their state butterflies.

The poll began on September 11 to allow the citizens to choose their favourite among the seven species . The poll will conclude on October 8, 2020 and individuals can cast their votes on  http://tiny.cc/nationalbutterflypoll. "Whichever butterfly the citizens choose will be nominated to the environment ministry. Informal communication over this has already taken place with the environment minister. We will be submitting a proposal to the government of India on or before October 10. And then by the end of this year or beginning of 2021, we’ll have a national butterfly,” Divakar Thombre, one of the members of the core polling group has been quoted in Indian media.

Butterfly Needs Umbrella of Protection

Blue Pierrot Ravi shukla
Butterflies are generally treated as non-target species in the wildlife conservation and management in India.  The current “Protected Area Network” of the country set up by the government, is mainly directed towards the conservation of flagship species’ like the tiger and Indian rhino. The important inter-specific relationships and landscape-level ecological processes taking place through smaller life-forms are largely ignored. Victims of global warming and pollution, they need to be protected.

 Banner pic:Common Jezbel by Sanjay Pyasi

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