By Mariela Palacios

In the cloudforest region in central Peru, Rainforest Partnership has been working since this year with the community of San Antonio to develop a sustainable butterfly sanctuary. With this project, we will provide training for capacity building and the funding for infrastructure. Our goal is to further expand the economic opportunitiesin this community by establishing a butterfly sanctuary, which will function as a conservatory and promote the breeding of endemic and local butterfly species affected by illegal poaching during the past ten years.

The implementation of the butterfly sanctuary has been a key part of our 2017 project goal, and it is something embraced by our partner community of San Antonio. The families of the San Antonio community are excited by the development of the butterfly sanctuary project. Several workshops within the community have already been conducted by Volodymyr Izerskyy, the entomologist in charge of the project. Different subjects like the biology, life cycles, reproduction methods, as well as the care and manipulation of butterflies in captivity have been discussed.

The butterfly sanctuary was built to pursue several objectives. The sanctuary serves as a tool that teaches the community and the public the ecological role played by butterflies and how they help to maintain their environment. The butterfly sanctuary meets all conditions as an educational and conservationist center, since it promotes and contributes to the protection and recovery of species threatened by human activity of the region. Therefore, species that are threatened by illegal hunting for commercial purposes and deforestation can be replenished.

To date, the project has gone through several phases in which the community have been actively involved. These phases have included the preparation of the land, construction of the flight zones, planting of host plants within the flight zones and surrounding area on the butterfly farm, and for now, the introduction of pupae of 4 species of butterflies (Caligo eurilochus, Caligo illioneus, Danaus plexippus y archaeoprepona demophon).

Now the community is ready for the final phase of infrastructure construction that includes the construction of the breeding laboratory. Here, the butterflies will complete the first stages of their life cycle before becoming an adult butterfly where they can enter the flight zone of the butterfly sanctuary or be released to their natural habitat. The laboratory will be built next to the flight zones during the month of November and its construction is estimated to last about a month.

Volodymyr Izerskyy explains the processes of handling pupae. A preliminary practice on pupal preparation manual.

Process of cleaning the soil and sowing plants.

Host plants for reproduction of the Morphos and Monarcas (Danaus plexippus).

Host plants for reproduction of the Caligos.

Installation of pupae in the flight zone.

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