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Conservation and community through butterfly farming

The Giant Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas)

 

Attacus atlas

The allure of butterflies and moths may be attributed to their vibrant colours and fragile beauty and certainly they remain as popular as ever with butterfly houses, nature centres, private collectors, photographs and artists. 

Butterfly farming addresses the needs of both the conservationist and the paying collector with the added benefit of enhancing the livelihoods and environment for the farmers themselves and many members of the local community.

Butterfly farms are found all over the world but the largest are in countries where areas of tropical rain forest are home to a huge variety of magnificent butterflies: Kenya, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Each of these countries is subject to the devastating effects of deforestation but the positive impact that butterfly farming has had on the incomes of the indigenous people has introduced them to an alternative method of survival which no longer involves the unsustainable exploitation of their environment.

Atlas moths have relatively short life-cycles and farmers have learned how to cultivate the optimum environment to ensure the development of the larvae through to the pupae and adult stage. 

Butterfly farming has provided rural economies with development opportunities, employment and promotion through eco-tourism which is often supported by conservation groups and individual governments who have been encouraged to create more forest reserves and areas of national parkland.

Public live displays at the butterfly farms themselves continue to grow in popularity, increasing awareness of the fragility of nature and the role of mankind in ensuring that human activity does not become responsible for the loss of these magnificent creatures.

As well as being sold to private collectors, specimens are sold to educational institutions and natural history museums in order that people all over the world may continue to learn about the butterflies, moths and insects.

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Attacus atlas