Amani Butterfly Project in Tanzania is one of the wonderful initiatives to protect nature and develop the community at the same time. This project is owned by Tanzania Forest Conservation Group which provides all facilities, training and technical assistance for the local farmers who manage and run the project.
Photo ourtesy of Martin Pettitt
The butterfly farmers are represented in the project by an elected board considering equal representation of both genders. The board sets their own policies and prices and use the project profits at the end to benefit the whole community by building schools or health centres.
The Idea of the project is to capture a few female butterflies from the forest and place them in an enclosure with plants where they can fly and lay eggs. Each butterfly species uses a different host plant. Farmers place the small larvae on host plants that they grow in nurseries .They usually keep some pupae from each generation so that they don’t need to capture more ones from the forest. Although they tend to get wild male butterflies to maintain genetic diversity on their captive population.
Pupae are then hung for a short period of time before they emerge. Finally, they are released into a large enclosed garden before it’s opened to visitors to learn about and enjoy butterflies. As tropical butterflies have short life spans, exhibits order new pupae every two to three weeks. In addition, the project makes some profits from butterflies dealers and collectors.
By protecting the butterflies’ wild habitat and creating new ones, this project has helped conserving their biodiversity alongside other animals in Amani nature reserve.
The best part about this project is that it trains local people and secures them income sources. Farmers receive large percentages of the sales, while the whole community get funds to develop their area.
By Nala Mahmoud