Fri, Feb 18, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Conservationist bemoans dying butterflies

Staff writer, with CNA

A conservationist bemoaned the fact yesterday that over the past 10 years, the millions of purple crow butterflies that used to spend the winter in Taiwan have been hugely reduced.

Chan Chia-lung (詹家龍), a researcher with the Butterfly Conservation Society of Taiwan, said the reason for the drop in numbers is because “the kingdom of -butterflies” — once a nickname for Taiwan — no longer loves them.

The butterflies, which are seen in the spring and summer all over Taiwan, spend the winter in the Maolin (茂林) area of Greater Kao-hsiung before migrating to other parts of the country.

In 2000, Chan launched a campaign to create an “ecological corridor” for the butterflies running through northern and southern -Taiwan so that the number dying during the migration could be minimized.

That effort earned not only international media attention, but also a Japanese innovation award.

However, Chan said the sight of hundreds of thousands of butterflies during the winter in Maolin that was common 10 years ago has become a rarity in recent years.

“The numbers have fallen and this past winter has seen the -smallest number of the butterflies in Maolin,” he said. “People have not been paying attention to butterfly habitats and we have to devote more resources to nurturing and protecting them.”

“Business donations in support of my efforts over 10 years or a NT$10 donation from each of the 23 million people of Taiwan would not be as effective as each person growing a NT$10 potted plant on their balconies,” Chan said.

He said the reason for the drop in numbers is intentional or unintentional damage to butterfly habitats, as can be seen from construction in the Maolin area, where the Butterfly Festival is held every year.

“Few people think about protecting butterflies. People just use them as a tool for creative art or look at them as a symbol,” Chan said.

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