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Zoo home for butterflies

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 24: Authorities of the Nandankanan Zoological Park will set up a one-acre butterfly park, housing 85 species, on its premises.

A zoo official said the park would be the fourth of its kind in India after Hyderabad, Surat and Bangalore.

Sources said a detailed plan had been chalked out and construction would start from mid-February after approval from the forest department.

“The master plan required for this has been prepared. The list of the host trees, which will attract butterflies, has been drawn up,” said park director Sudarshan Panda.

Panda said they were working out whether to set up the park inside the zoo or on the premises of the adjoining botanical garden, which together constituted the Nandankanan Zoological Park.

Between June and August 2009, the zoo authorities had documented as many as 85 species of butterflies belonging to five families and 65 genera in the zoological park. The butterflies included one specie Danaid eggfly (Hypolimnas misippus) belonging to schedule I, two species belonging to schedule II and one species, Striped albatross (Appias libythea), belonging to schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Sources said that according to the recent estimate by Harish S. Gaonkar, a butterfly specialist, 1,501 species of butterflies were found in India.

The proposed park will have a rearing centre along with an interpretation centre that will impart knowledge to the visitors on butterflies. Overhead nets will cover the entire area.

While the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad has a butterfly park on its premises, the one in Bangalore is situated near the Bannerghata National Park. The park in Surat near the Sarthna Zoo has around 10,000 plants belonging to 100 species. The butterfly park has several features, including artificial waterfalls, ponds, rock garden and pathways.

The proposed park in Nandankanan will have a number of trees, including flowering shrubs and those bearing seasonal flowers to attract butterflies. While caterpillars live on young leaves, an adult butterfly depends on nectar produced from flowers.

“At various stages of its life cycle, a butterfly requires different kinds of food. So, we will plant a large variety of plants inside the proposed park,” said a zoo official.