The denser the concrete jungle became, the rarer was the sight of the beautiful butterflies, which once adorned our gardens. However, thanks to the efforts of lecturer Sammilan Shetty, the winged beauties are returning.
Shetty who has always awed the dazzling species, has created the first private ‘Butterfly Park of the state’ on the 7.35 acres of his ancestral property located in the foot of Kanthavara forest in Belvai village.
Shetty founded the park in 2011, and since then has been planting various host plants, with an aim to create a paradise for the dwindling beauties.
His special interest for butterflies grew when he was allotted a project on “Study of local butterflies” by his Zoology teacher Ashok C H, during his graduation days at Alva’s College Moodabidri, in the year 2006.
Since then, he has been keenly observing butterflies and has dedicated himself to conserve them.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Shetty said that the idea of setting up a butterfly park for conservation, was born after he came across a write up on, Gardening for Butterflies-by Isaac Kehimkar in his book, “The Book of Indian Butterflies”. This has later lead to serious awareness programmes and conservation activities through the park in Belvai, which lies in midst of Western Ghats.
"Butterflies are an important part of the food web and are very good pollinators. However, they are vanishing as their host plants are disappearing due to habitat destruction, pollution and use of insecticides. About 3.5 acres of park land is in the secondary forest area and naturally existing host plants are being identified and conserved. The iconic tree of Western Ghats the Hopea ponga, which is the host plant of three varieties of Oakblue are found here," he said.
The park presently hosts 113 species of butterflies throughout the year belonging to five families such as Hesperiidae (Skippers), Papilionoidae (Swallowtails), Peridae (Whites and Yellows), Lycaenidae (Blues) and Nymphalidae (Brush-footed butterflies). Malabar Banded Peacock, Southern Birdwing, Paris Peacock and others are major attractions.
Open for public
Shetty's park will be officially inaugurated on August 18. The park is only open on Sundays between 8.30 am to 12 noon and will have a special awareness presentation by Sammilan Shetty.
Shetty also plans on opening a gallery, which displays photos and information on butterflies and also screen documentaries to help people know the winged jewels better.
One can visit the park at Shanthadi House, Butterfly Park Road in Belvai Village.