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The Butterfly Project – Nationwide Launch

The Butterfly Project – Nationwide Launch

The Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust is embarking on a nationwide project to measure the health of the butterfly population and measure the migration behaviour of the Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus.

"Since the Trust was formed a year ago we have had tremendous support from the people of NZ, as well as co-operation from overseas organisations set up to protect butterflies," said Jacqui Knight, Trustee. "And this has posed some interesting questions."

She said that there were various reports about how many different species of butterflies existed in NZ, and whether their population was being affected by such factors as global warming, pollution and development. And for this reason the Trust was seeking the support of people nationwide who were into doing what they could to protect biodiversity and help Nature.

Their project, the Butterfly Project, has two arms.

Those people who work with Monarchs, such as schools that choose to be involved, will be issued with tiny, individually-coded tags which can be applied to the wing of each Monarch that is released. Information about the age and condition of the Monarch will be recorded. Later sightings of that butterfly will provide information about the habits and migration of the NZ Monarch. "Many people are unaware of other NZ butterflies," said Jacqui. "But we have some extraordinarily beautiful ones - and over a thousand different moths. We're also encouraging people to commit to regular walks over the summer months, and log in what butterflies they see."

In the spring the Monarch Butterfly Trust will be holding workshops around the country to show people some of the more common butterflies and moths, demonstrate tagging, and show people what plants should be fostered in domestic gardens to encourage butterflies.

"In Europe and the UK and North America scientists are concerned over the numbers of butterflies that are diminishing," Jacqui continued. "Butterflies are pollinators, and very important in the scheme of things. It's time this country did some homework, as Nature is so important to us all here."

"The Mazda Foundation has been of tremendous support with funding," said Jacqui. "And the National Geographic has kindly released their film THE BUTTERFLY CODE which illustrates tagging in Asia. (The film illustrates butterflies being tagged in Japan, and recovered in Taiwan, as far as 1200km away.)"

The Butterfly Project will be launched at a special event at Russell's Environmental Expo, Saturday 5 August at 11am.


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