Butterflies at Tembe
Zululand’s lowland forests, as found in Tembe Elephant Park, Ndumo, Mkhuze, Kosi Bay etc, are great places to look for butterflies. By Romi Boom.
A butterfly hotspot is being established in the far northeast of KwaZulu-Natal. The Tembe Butterfly Dome is a project developed by African Conservation Trust, with funding from the National Lottery, and is an excellent opportunity to have a close encounter with South African butterfly species. The project is intended to uplift the local community and promote the conservation of butterfly habitat and biological diversity by improving butterfly tourism in the region.
In anticipation of an increase in butterfly tourism, ranger Patrick Mthethwa at Tembe Elephant Park is hard at work studying butterfly field guides. In this area it is not difficult to find the large, spectacular Gold-banded Forester Euphaedra neophron neophron (75mm) under the forest canopy, flitting around close to the ground. The best time to go butterfly hunting in lowland forest is spring (September to November) and late summer/autumn (February to May) are best. Easter is perhaps the best time to look for butterflies in these areas.
The National Lotteries also allocated R1,5 million for an 8-bed rustic camp in the Tembe Tribal area. Known as Bhekula Lodge, it is situated in the sand forest adjacent to Tembe Elephant Park. Men and women living in the surrounding area have been employed to work on this exciting project in northern Zululand, which will eventually be run by the same local community.
Did you know?
South Africa has more than 660 butterfly species of which over 300 are endemic.
Read more about butterflies in the Spring issue of Wild magazine.
The electronic version of the magazine will be uploaded to wildcard.co.za in September 2012.