‘Kerala’ Silent Valley basking in butterflies’: Survey

Kochi: Butterflies are painting the Silent Valley National Park bright, with a survey finding more species of the nectar-feeding insects in the protected forest in Kerala and its buffer zone, thrilling nature enthusiasts.

The survey carried out from December 22 to 25 by the park in association with the Malabar Natural History Society recorded 203 species, taking the overall butterfly diversity of Silent Valley to 220 species.

The present survey sighted about 40 species that had not been recorded during the study conducted in 2016 – it had registered 180 species then. A total of 41 MNHS volunteers and the Kerala forest officials stayed put in 18 camp sheds across the park to monitor the beautiful insects for the latest survey. 

“More impressive is the fact that such an immense diversity was recorded during the offseason,” said Balakrishnan Valappil, a nature enthusiast who was among the 41 volunteers that counted the butterfly species.

Two camps near Nilambur South and Mukkali spotted over 100 species. “Another attraction of the survey was the large gathering of Blue Tiger and Crow butterfly species in thousands which was a sight that the surveyors would cherish for a long time to come. Curiously an otherwise common “Common Mormon” was seen very less during the survey days, though their activity was quite well during the previous months,” said Balakrishnan.

The Western Ghat endemic “Malabar Tree Nymph” and “Malabar Rose” butterflies were seen in large numbers across the camps. Other interesting spottings were “White-tufted Royal”, a new record for the Park and “Travancore Evening Brown” which was recorded during the 2016 survey.

Located in the Nilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats, the Silent Valley National Park has a core area of 89.52 square kilometres and a buffer zone of 148 km² around it. The park is home to some rare species of flora and fauna. The area was explored in 1847 by botanist Robert Wight. Silent Valley was declared a national park 1984 and inaugurated the next year.

The survey was headed by K K Sunil Kumar (DFO, Additional Charge, Silent Valley) Ajayghosh V (Assistant Wildlife Warden, Silent Valley National Park Range), Ashalatha A (Assistant Wildlife Warden, Bhavani Range), Anuraj R Kaimal (Conservation Biologist), and the MNHS members Balakrishnan Valappil, VK Chandrasekhan and Sushanth C.

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