Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Ceylon Rose Butterfly (Atrophaneura jophon jophon)
If the Ceylon Rose butterfly could speak, it would be telling us to tread carefully through the jungle. It’s an important message, because this butterfly only makes its home in Sri Lanka’s undisturbed rainforests. If we can find it, we know the forest around is unspoiled and rich with natural treasures. But the Ceylon Rose is very sensitive. If the forest is disturbed it cannot live there – so it is really important we protect the last few patches of primary rainforest. An animal like this is called an ‘indicator species’ – its presence indicates the forest is in pristine condition, and its absence is a warning that bad environmental changes are afoot.
The Ceylon Rose is very rare because there are not many areas of undisturbed rainforest where it can live. Sinharaja is one place you can still catch a glimpse, in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky. Look carefully in clearings, by footpaths and roads, where they flit between flowers looking for nectar. They have beautiful wings shaped like a swallowtail, about the size of a saucer when fully open. Look carefully and you can see the wings are tipped with red splashes.
What can you do to help?
The Ceylon Rose’s main threat is habitat loss. Living in Sinharaja Forest Reserve gives it some protection from the government and the international network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. But there are still things you can do to help.
1. Find out what other indicator species live in Sinharaja, visit the forest, and see if you can spot them.
2. If you do see one in the wild, don’t catch it. It’s illegal and will reduce numbers of this rare animal even further.
3. Research other endangered butterflies in Sri Lanka and make a butterfly map for your classroom
» Find out how else you can help to protect Sri Lanka's endangered species
Illustration by Aisa Hewatathirana
Posted by Rainforest Rescue International at 2:04 AM