South Africa: Butterfly Route launched – contributing to local conservation and the upliftment of local communities

by Jun 12, 2012Wildlife News

The Butterfly Route is a first of its kind in South Africa, consisting of a network of community owned butterfly houses which breed and display indigenous butterflies to the public. The domes are located across the province of KwaZulu-Natal and each feature different butterfly species, dependent on the vegetation and climate of the region. The butterfly dome offers visitors an opportunity to get up close and personal with these delicate insects, while at the same time contributing to local conservation and the upliftment of local communities. Each butterfly dome is accompanied by an indigenous nursery, breeding facilities and interpretation room. Guided tours of the surrounding forest areas are also offered.

Conservation and Eco-tourism

Butterflies are incredibly sensitive to environmental change, but sadly, many of South Africa’s indigenous forest and grassland areas are under threat. Without viable alternatives, many communities living on the edge of these areas remove and use the vegetation in an unsustainable manner. The butterfly houses increase their understanding of how forest ecosystems work, while at the same time providing community members with the opportunity of producing an income, and a financial incentive to maintain their environment.

Using the delicate butterfly as an example, members of the public develop an appreciation for the importance of protecting indigenous plants and animals. Butterflies are dependent on specific varieties of vegetation, or host plants, for laying their eggs, feeding and pollinating. If these host plants are removed then the delicate balance is altered and the butterflies become threatened. It is only with the support and understanding of all members of the community that their natural habitat will be secured.

This project was developed by the African Conservation Trust, with funding received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). For more information see the Butterfly Route website.

By visiting the Butterfly Route you will not only see the amazing South African butterflies, but you will also be helping to maintain the ecological integrity of the area while contributing to the local community.

Visit the Butterfly Route website