BUTTERFLY FARMING AND CONSERVATION
The increase in demand of butterflies for educational flying butterfly exhibits, museums and collectors has resulted in the development of techniques for raising butterfly pupa in a controlled environment to boost production for sale. This practice, known as butterfly farming, capitalizes on the life cycle of the butterflies, which is relatively short.
Butterfly farms exist all over the world, but the biggest operations are in countries with tropical rain forest, because this is where a majority of butterfly species exist. Some of the leading producers are Malaysia, Philippines, Peru, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, and Costa Rica. These countries are also losing tropical rain forest and native habitat at an alarming rate.
If properly implemented, butterfly farming can provide rural economies with much needed income, which in turn reduces the needs of people living in or adjacent to tropical forests to exploit them in unsustainable ways. Additionally, because the farming of butterflies is dependent on native intact vegetation, which the butterflies need in their various stages of their life cycle, a farmer must maintain a garden of native plants in and around the farm to supply food for the larvae – leaving important ecological habitats intact.
Studies have shown butterfly farming has been instrumental in the conservation of tropical forests, development and promotion of rural economies through eco-tourism and the sale of specimens to museums, collectors and educators (Young, 1986, BOSTID, 1983, Parsons, 1992, Santiapillai, 1999).
Young, A.M. 1986. Eco-enterprises: Ecotourism and Farming of Exotics in the Tropics. Ambio, Vol.XV No.6, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Stockholm, Sweden. pp 361-363.
Bostid. 1983 Butterfly Farming in Papua New Guinea. National Academy Press. Washington D.C.
Parsons, M.J 1992. The Butterfly Farming and Trading Industry in the Indo-Australian Region and its role in Tropical Forest Conservation. Tropical Lepidoptera Isbel st, Glandele, USA.
Santiapillai, C.1999. Towards Development of Land use Strategies Compatible with Wildlife Conservation in Xishuangbanna, China Tiger Paper, Vol.26, No.2 pp 1-4.