Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, India is a notable tiger reserve as well as an elephant reserve. A recent survey, however has shown that the protected forest area rich in biodiversity is also home to 246 species of butterflies, proving once again that protecting a tiger’s territory helps conserve a number of species including the small and spectacular butterflies.
Periya tiger reserve is part of the Western Ghats, a world heritage site. It is spread over an area of 925 square kilometers. The survey, which was conducted under the aegis of the Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation and the Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS) from October 23 to 26, found these 246 species of the 340 species of butterflies found in the entire Western Ghats. The survey also found 30 of the 32 species of butterflies endemic to the Western Ghats.
The surveyors were especially delighted to spot three rare species of butterflies in the area. These were,
Sahyadri Baby Five Ring (Ypthima tabella)
Pale Green Awlet (Burara gomata kanara)
Broad Tail Royal (Creon cleobis)
Sreehari R , Ecologist, who was part of the survey team said,
“The Baby five ring, which was recorded in the world only three times was found in the survey. The Pale green awlet, a nocturnal butterfly was found from the Velliamala section of the Periyar reserve, and the Broad Tail Royal, was recorded for the first time in Kerala from the Eravangalar region of the reserve.”
The other butterflies found were,
- 17 species of Paplionidae family which are commonly known as the swallowtail butterflies
- 25 of Pieridea, a sub-family of the Papilionidae, with yellow and white coloring most commonly
- 78 Nymphalidae, the largest family of butterflies with 6000 species worldwide
- 1 Ryodinidae, commonly known as metalmarks because of the metal like spots found on their wings
- 56 Lycaenidae family also known as the gossamer winged butterflies
- 69 Hesperidae family or the skippers
Dr Kalesh S of TNHS is confident that a follow up survey of the same nature could lead to the finding of more than 300 species of butterflies in the reserve making it the most diverse protected area of the state.
An earlier survey conducted in the Periya reserve in 1992 had revealed 167 species of butterflies.