Beautiful, but fragile – butterflies will now have a dedicated home in the city. Spread over two-three acres in south Delhi's Asola-Bhatti wildlife sanctuary, this butterfly park will host 40-45 varieties of the psychedelic winged creatures. Among them will be rare kinds such as Painted Lady and Great Orange Tip.
Watching butterflies is sheer joy, but conserving them is also critical because, even with an average lifespan of 30-odd days, they help pollinate economically important crops, are good indicators of climate change, and their presence attracts birds who feed on them.
The Capital's chief wildlife warden, AK Shukla, said, "We will prepare a nursery of nectar plants to host butterflies, apart from reviving some existing water bodies. There would be an elevated walkway for visitors to ensure the habitat is not disturbed. We will complete the project in six-nine months".
A team of wildlife officials studied a similar facility created by the forest department in Chandigarh and returned to Delhi on Saturday. "The desired varieties will not have to be brought over. We will prepare the ground for their arrival. There already are 15 species in the sanctuary. The start-up budget is Rs 4-5 lakh," Shukla said.
Noted environmentalist CR Babu, who is in charge of two government-created biodiversity parks in Delhi, said, "We have as many as 105 species in these two parks. We welcome one more conservatory."
Butterflies can be seen at the Capital's biodiversity parks, Lodi Gardens, Sanjay Van, JNU and Okhla bird sanctuary. "But this will be the first park where butterflies would be scientifically reared and protected on a vast scale," said Shukla.
The chief wildlife warden said he was expecting some technology transfer from the Chandigarh park. "There is another such facility in Karnataka. We haven't yet decided whether public entry to the park will be ticket-based or not," he said.
The department says it will ensure that an area of 10-20 acres around the park sees growth in wildlife population, and this will be an insecticide and herbicide-free zone. "There might be a lotus pond and an herbal garden as well. We're working on these details," said another official.
"We don't have leopards and tigers in the sanctuary. There has to be something to draw the visitors. What better than a butterfly park," he added.
According to some estimates, there are about 20,000 different butterfly species in the world, of which 1,501 exist in India.