When the tourists arrive at Butterfly Park in Jamshedpur to take a close look at the hundreds of the winged wonders flitting across flowers in their cages, they more often than not come across a spindly woman moving diligently in the enclosures checking out the foliage there.
She checks the leaves and the flowers, collects a few samples and then moves on. Meet Malti Majhi — the tribal woman who shoulders the responsibility of breeding butterflies for the Tata zoo.
A dedicated worker, Malti devotes her time wholeheartedly for the breeding of the winged creatures. She collects eggs found on the leaves of the vegetation in the park and transfers them to small baskets at a larvae-breeding chamber. When the larvae grow into pupae, she shifts them to the butterfly breeding house. It is her responsibility to see that the creepy larvae take the right food at the breeding house. For this, she arranges for over a dozen species of green plants. She also prepares a mixture of honey and water in the right proportion for the butterflies to feed on.
The cycle of breeding eggs to putting butterflies for exhibition has to go on without a break. And she does it with a smile on her face.
The Tata zoo management has even felicitated Malti for her good work. "Here I was taught how to nurture butterflies. I had to learn a lot of things fast as the Butterfly Park had to be readied for inauguration. I am happy that I can now handle the work myself," Malti said. "I have a knowledge of butterflies as I am a garden worker. But I had did not worked in a laboratory kind of an environment. This is the first time I have learnt to nurture butterflies in-house. I am happy that the park authorities have entrusted me with the responsibility," she added with a smile.
"She is very dedicated and puts in hard work from morning to evening at the Butterfly Park. Breeding over a dozen butterfly species is not easy. There are various factors like temperature and humidity that also have to be taken care of. Malti showed her keen interest in the job, and she did it with success," Dr M. Palit, veterinary officer of the zoological park said.
“When the plan for the Butterfly Park was first mooted, we looked for a suitable hand for the job. But we did not find any, as male staff members of the zoo do not have knowledge of butterflies. We chose Malti for her knowledge in the subject and her dedication," Dr Palit added.