India boasts about 1500 different species of butterflies out of which more than 180 species are found in Odisha's Eastern Ghats. The reason for the diversity is directly affected by the diversified ecological conditions. Odisha boasts of natural forests, grasslands, high tree canopies, mangroves, fast flowing rivers/streams, dry and deciduous forests, alpine regions, etc. however, rapid urbanization, mining, soil erosion, and use of insecticides in huge acres of lands have resulted in loss of many species through centuries.

While, this part of India holds a potential diversity, this is also the most overlooked and ignored territory when it comes to butterfly mapping. The Butterfly Project, through its several programs directed towards the conservation of these fluttering beauties, aims to strike a balance. Sustainable utilization of resources is at the core of conservation. Butterfly population has been highly affected by habitat destruction and it is only by knowledge and understanding of these insects, can we hope to make them a part of our civilization.

The Butterfly Project aims works alongside land owners, local authorities, conservation bodies, businesses and local people to raise awareness about the threats to our butterflies, moths, their habitats and our environment. The board provides advice, funding and practical help on how to protect these and other threatened wildlife in the region.

Several butterflies in the region are particularly vulnerable due to habitat loss and population fragmentation resulting in small isolated colonies which become increasingly susceptible to local or regional extinction.

The State of Odisha

The state occupies a total area of 155,707 square kilometers. It is bound on the east by the 450 kilometer coastline of the Bay of Bengal. In the south, the state is bordered by Andhra Pradesh. The state of Madhya Pradesh lies to the west of Orissa while the West Bengal lies to the north. The state projects distinct yet homogeneous features of topography.

The flora and fauna of Odisha, a state in eastern India, is extremely diverse and gives the state a reputation for abundance of natural beauty and wildlife. The districts in the interior are thickly covered by forests both of the tropical moist deciduous type as well as tropical dry deciduous. The hills, plateaus and isolated areas of the northeastern part of the state are covered by the tropical moist deciduous forests whereas the second types of the forests are located in the southwest region of the state. A study of the geography of Orissa reveals to us the topographical features that are unique to the state.

With a blend of several physiographical features in Orissa, the state is divided into five morphological units. These five units are listed below:
  1. Mountainous and Highlands Region
  2. Coastal Plains
  3. Western Rolling Uplands
  4. Central Plateaus
  5. Flood Plains
The state of Orissa is watered by several rivers and their tributaries. Some of the rivers which have their mouth in the Bay of Bengal flow through the state of Orissa.

The region is also subject to a tropical climate that is depicted by searing hot summers, pouring monsoon rains and pleasant winters. The voluminous seas and the hilly terrains of the Eastern Ghats play a pivotal role in shaping the weather of Orissa. Consequently, the coastal zone is subjected to mild and pleasant climatic conditions while the Eastern Ghats are much cooler.

Due to the huge variations in topography, climate and forest cover, the state is also likely to have a great variety in butterfly diversity. A less explored region, we believe Odisha can reveal many surprises in this field.

The Objectives

  1. Butterfly Education and Outreach Programs Workshop
    Butterfly conservation outreach efforts including habitat development, monitoring networks, and partnerships to be discussed in the initiating event organized by Mushroom. The seminar aims to discuss and share successful butterfly education activities as a way to provide new ideas for others.

  2. Making your land butterfly friendly!
    Land alteration and fragmentation, chemicals (such as pesticides), and non-native species are leading contributors to the decline of butterfly populations in Eastern Ghats. The Butterfly Project encourages all to earn recognition for their efforts to combat these forces by having your garden or land certified as Backyard Habitat and Pollinator Friendly. These programs will help us incorporate butterfly, pollinator, and bird-friendly practices into private gardens and complexes. In collaboration with the government/wildlife NGOs, The Butterfly Project aims at promoting butterfly conservation and education by planting butterfly gardens at maximum number of assisted living centers as part of their Butterfly conservation program and through other outreach activities.

  3. Mapping /documentation butterfly hotspots
    The Eastern Ghats holds a diverse flora and fauna and is also one of the less explored regions in the Indian Subcontinent. For the first time, The Butterfly Project aims to establish a distribution atlas for the butterfly diversity in this region, plotting the species on a comprehensive and precise distribution map. Butterfly mapping for Odisha will not only provide chronological data for biogeographers and taxonomists but will also aid the prime purpose of butterfly conservation. The mapping will establish a wider evaluation on butterfly distribution data and consequently will act as advancement for the knowledge of the butterflies in the Eastern Ghats. The aim of our Butterfly Mapping program would be to:
    • Generate information on butterfly diversity of Odisha
    • Identify, access and seek solutions to threats relating to butterfly population

  4. Butterfly Farm/Garden
    Butterflies have fascinated the naturalist and the common man for ages. While there are more than 20,000 species in the world, the Indian subcontinent boasts of a huge population itself. The wide ranging presence of species is supported by highly varying ecological capacities throughout the continent. In the state of Odisha itself, we are blessed to have the highest peak in the Eastern Ghats, beaches, grasslands, streams, rivers, etc. However, due to various reasons many habitats have been altered. Consequently, many butterfly species that were commonly seen even some 10 years ago seemed to have vanished from the state.

    A butterfly farm/garden will not only help reintroduce the lost species but also conserve the present diversity. Through greater understanding of host pants and suitable growth conditions, we aim to take up certain spots across the state that acts as open-air butterfly gardens. The objectives of the butterfly farm would be:
    • To facilitate public education on the significance of nature conservation
    • Conservation of species through re-introduction and captive breeding
    • Provide local communities direct incentives through employment
    • To generate funds for the purpose of butterfly conservation through sale of souvenirs, mementoes, and other goodies

  5. Educational Mission
    Promote, protect and restore native butterflies of the Eastern Ghats and their habitats through a variety of educational initiatives including programs, special events and exhibits, interpretive signage, curriculum, workshops, and activism.

  6. Butterfly Conservation Projects
    The Butterfly Project aims to win funds and engage students of the subjects into research and thorough monitoring of the butterfly diversity and population in Odisha and the Eastern Ghats in the wider perspective. This would be directly linked to conserving the existing diversity and reintroducing species that seem to have been moved from these parts.

  7. Documentation and publication
    We aim to identify the present butterfly population in the State through an extensive use of technical tools and software. The documentation, both in images and videos will be taking specific areas and diversity hotspots into account. This documentation will further be turned into publications, describing several aspects of butterfly habitat and behavior. Documentation and publication of 'The Butterfly Project' will not only be used to raise awareness of the species but will be a helpful tool in gathering funds for research work and related activities.
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