Mumbai park is haven for butterflies

Mumbai park is haven for butterflies

With more than 170 species of butterflies, larger than the colour winged creatures in the UK, Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has been luring large numbers of naturalists and butterfly enthusiasts.

Their increasing presence is also a motivation to make the study on the creature a hobby for many.  “Butterfly watching is rapidly emerging as a much sought after hobby or pleasurable activity, and this is happening on a global scale,” SGNP director and chief conservator of forests Vikas Gupta wrote in the preface to the pocket guide called “Butterflying in SGNP”.

“While people are increasingly moving out to far-fetched forest and landscapes in pursuit of butterflies, we want to draw the attention of Mumbaikars to their own backyard and the sheer potential it holds in terms of making butterfly watching a favourite pastime for them,” Gupta added.

The book points out that India is home to 1,501 species of butterflies out of the 18,000 in the world. Among them, 321 are skippers (Hesperiidae), 107 swallowtails (Papilionidae), 109 whites and yellows (Pieridae), 521 brush-footed (Nymphalidae) and 443 blues (Lycaenidae).

The pocket guide deals with moths and butterflies, their life cycle, optics for watching and photographing them. Sprawled over 103 sq km in Mumbai and some parts of neighbouring Palghar and Thane districts, SGNP is home to more than 274 species of birds, 35 mammals, 78 reptiles and amphibians, several fish and a staggering 1,300 plants.

It contains different kinds of habitats such as thick mixed-deciduous forests, rocky plateaus with grass and shrubs, barren rock faces, water bodies in the form of seasonal streams, fresh water lakes and mangroves.

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