OUR ENCOUNTER WITH KINGDOM OF BUTTERFLIES
-A S Bishnoi and Shakti Bishnoi
1. The wonderful creations of God are seen everywhere. Ever since life came to existence the world was surrounded by colourful and charming winged jewels to honour mother earth. The prime quality initially created was with prominent colours than today.
With rapid deforestation and industrialization, hardly open space is left for their survival and existence. Pure air, food and nectar plants in the wilderness are some of prerequisites for their survival. Some of the species have become extinct and more will
follow their path in the near future, till the time we wake up to see the remnants, which is in fact an irreversible process. Little, we can do is to offer conducive environment for their survival. Let our coming generation see their existence and appreciate
the world of vibrant colours. It is our conscience, which is still missing in the domain of initiative.
Striped, Plain and Blue Tigers
2.Plants in the ecosystem are the main source for our survival. Living beings depend on nature for survival. It is our prime duty to maintain the ecosystem in its prime condition. Herbivorous and carnivores are mutually dependent for their survival. All
fruit bearing plants except few depend on birds/insects/butterflies for pollination. One of the missing link in the ecosystem will lead to void, which cannot be created again. Butterflies, the colourful winged jewels are performing the most important task
in assisting the pollination of plants and yet are one of the harmless class of species. Looking at the pace at which the deforestation is consuming the earth, the day is not far to look for these miraculously beautiful flying angels in books and video recordings.
3.From time immemorial, butterflies have always fascinated humankind and no group of insects is more charismatic than the butterflies. Among insects they are certainly the most popular, and that is probably why they are among the most studied insects.
There was a time when butterflies were collected by hobbyists like postage stamps. Much information was generated during that period on their taxonomy, migration, variation, mimicry, speciation and evolutionary biology. Today several species of butterflies
are used by conservation biologists as indicator species to identify habitats that are critical and need to be protected.
Mormon with pupa
4.Their size ranges from the tiny jewels to gorgeous bird wings with a wing span as great as eight inches. Almost all Indian butterflies are under threat, and some are critically endangered. Large areas, once forest or wasteland, full of wild plants that
caterpillars eat, have now been cleared for agriculture, besides their habitat loss the widespread use of insecticide has drastically reduced numbers. But a butterfly lover and nature lover finds its way and so did we. We created ?The butterfly garden?, one
of its kind, wherever we got posted as part of Armed Forces requirement. Both of us were born in a family “BISHNOI? which are world's first environmentalists and believe in conserving/preserving the nature. So it is in our sanskar and genes to contribute
in whichever we way can, journey still continues even in MILIT, Pune
5. Butterflies choose untouched green/clean area and wild plants for their caterpillars to row. Their very existence indicates that the environment is conducive for humans to survive. They are the indicators of clean environment. With this apt information
and our quest to know more about them, we started exploring the wild fauna and flora in search of butterflies. We use to spend our free time in collecting caterpillars and rearing them at home by planting their food plant or bringing the leaves of food plant
and feeding them till it is adult butterfly.
6. We ( Cdr A S Bishnoi, Mrs Shakti Bishnoi and Daughter Kanan Bishnoi) are continuously working towards adding numerous winged jewel(Butterflies) to our mother earth for further pollinations of life, giving life to plants. We both used to observe
these wonderful creations viz birds, butterflies and visited several wildlife sanctuaries being inquisitive about wildlife and food plants of winged jewels. Our journey began in 2009, when we were in Mumbai. We used to admire these colourful butterflies
at the same time were inquisitive as how do they come into this world and how long do they survive etc. Our inspiration was Fighter Pilot Sqn Ldr Girish Dantale now Gp Capt Dantale. Very soon, nature bestowed us with an opportunity to have a closer look
of these mysterious winged jewels on this earth. We witnessed lime butterfly laying eggs on lemon plant and thereafter there was no looking back and rest is history.
Bishnoi with common mormon
7. In 2011 we got transferred to Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). We were offered vintage house (1955) and had enough space for garden, wherein we made our butterfly garden by planting the food plant viz. Lemon, Curry leaves, Calotropis Gigantea(milkweed)
, Wild creeper ,Palm leaves etc. Very soon I was transferred to Delhi, it was bit disappointment (as rarely open space is available to continue my hobby and pollution was other concern), but we still managed to create small terrace garden with food plants.
Too our surprise, winged jewels made their presence in dust and contaminated air of Delhi against the belief that they are indicator of clean area. Life still thrives amidst the chaotic situations.
8. Our journey from Western-Ghats to Eastern-Ghats and vice-versa continued and today we are amidst Western Ghats. Butterfly species are unique to their native place but they do migrate from Western Ghats to Eastern Ghats and it is documented. We have,
till date reared/nurtured 600 butterflies of 5 different species and journey continues in MILIT as well (F-12 Block)?.
9. Their existence is endangered and survival is critical. Their habitat needs to be protected as day by day the large areas, once forest or wasteland, full of wild plants that caterpillars eat, have now been cleared for agriculture, deliberate forest
fire, stubble burning, besides their habitat loss the widespread use of insecticide/pesticide to increase yield has drastically reduced numbers and few are extinct from earth. Concrete jungles, afforestation and rapid urbanization is taking a toll, unless
we create forest which is self sustaining eco-system, human existence is distant dream. Exploring other planets for transporting elite humans is not the solution.
10. Awareness and creation of more wild space consisting of adequate wild flowers and food plants of butterflies. Every citizen is responsible for it. We even land up clearing our backyard grass, some species lay eggs on them as well.
Educate children they are the future of this nation. Nowadays every child is well versed with how to use the gadget(moble, android, Laptop etc), but no body takes time to go outside the house and wander in jungle or backyard of their house and appreciate
11. Let us start giving life to these species. If one in 10 can be nurtured, the balance in the ecosystem will increase the survival rate of other species. Little, we can do is to offer conducive environment for their survival. Let our coming generation
see their existence and appreciate the world of vibrant colours. It is our conscience, which is still missing in the domain of initiative. We all are born out of nature, but only few contribute to enhance its glory. We think of searching/exploring life in
our galaxy, but are least bothered about our own earth and keep on killing the species. Our existence is cause of environment.
Mr A S Bishnoi is a post graduate in Electronics. Apart from wildlife photography, he is qualified ornithologist and has been contributing by participating in bird census of Chilika lake for the last 10 years and also BNHS related activities.
Mrs Shakti Bishnoi is a postgraduate from London School of Business Management. She is qualified and experienced ornithologist, participates in bird census and child counselor. Believes in increasing green cover and has taken initiative at ground level. Marathon
runner for a cause.