We've partnered with Spa Ceylon to protect Sri Lanka's indigenous and endemic butterfly species, promoting biodiversity conservation
Despite its small size, Sri Lanka is home to over 200 butterfly species – 23 of which are endemic, which means they are only found in Sri Lanka. Common species are found across the island, but other species are found only in specific habitats.
Fifty-two species of butterflies have been recorded from Wasgamuwa with eight endemic species, however, a comprehensive study of butterflies in Wasgamuwa is yet to be carried out, so this list may well be a lot longer. Our project aims to fill this knowledge gap, create a sanctuary for butterflies, and launch a public awareness programme to teach local children about butterfly species, the threats to their survival and how to conserve them.
Butterflies Under Threat
Despite their wide distribution across the island, butterflies in Sri Lanka are nevertheless under threat and rapidly decreasing in numbers. Almost a third of all butterfly species in Sri Lanka are listed as ‘Threatened’ on the IUCN Redlist.
The biggest threats to the butterflies are habitat destruction and degradation, air pollution, and extensive use of agro-chemicals such as pesticides. Predation and the effects of climate change, such as prolonged droughts, also pose a threat to them.
A lack of education and awareness contributes to the decline of butterflies since unknowingly people through their actions cause harm to butterflies, especially when they clear plants essential for their survival and use harmful chemicals in their gardens.
Combining Scientific Research with Community Education
Our Butterfly Conservation Project will take a two-pronged approach. The first is to create an acre-wide butterfly sanctuary in Wasgamuwa, managing the land and planting species that promote butterfly colonization. For example, plant species that are critical for butterflies to lay eggs, those that act as feeder plants for caterpillars, and those that will provide an important source of nectar for adults.
The butterfly sanctuary will provide us with vital information on colonization, breeding, feeding, and predation, as well as on population dynamics and densities, to develop informed conservation strategies to promote butterfly conservation in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, a public awareness and educational programme will be run in two local schools, where schoolchildren will learn about butterfly ecology and how they can create butterfly gardens in their own homes. These will provide crucial habitats within villages and outside of the protected areas, to help increase local butterfly populations.