Kohima: Around 1,500 species out of over 17,000 species of butterflies in the world are found in India—with a large number of rare butterflies from the eastern and western Himalayan region. With a decline in the number and variety of butterflies, two sisters from Nagaland are taking it upon themselves to tell stories about the butterflies and the need to conserve them through a book that was launched on Friday.
Authored by Wonchi Murry, a pathologist, and her sister Mhayani Murry, the book titled “A beginners’ guide to the Butterflies of the Himalayan Realm” is published by the PenThrill Publications. The book was launched by Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Kohima Division Rajkumar M, IFS at the Ete Coffee Roasters in Kohima.
During the launch, Wonchi recounted how the sisters spent their childhood chasing and collecting butterflies. She said that back then, since there was no Google, it was hard to research or identify the differences between butterflies and moths.
“As people are more aware of the environment we live in today, butterfly watching is now increasingly becoming a hobby with more people taking interest in the tiny creatures,” she said.
She said that butterfly watching is a fun and healthy activity and is also good for mental health. Wonchi hopes that through their book, more people would develop chasing and watching butterflies as a hobby.
DFO Rajkumar M, in his address at the launch, said conservation is incomplete unless the community is a part of it. He hoped the book, which is a “complete guide,” will help boost locals towards conserving the environment.
“As books help bring change, conservation-related books from Nagaland should be widely shared to ignite the need to conserve the environment while at a younger age,” he said.
The officer shared that the eco-tourism potential of the state also needs to be tapped. “Butterfly watching and walk is a good eco-tourism activity,” he added.
Publisher Rita Krocha said the book is a fascinating journey about butterflies. “Most of us only know it by one name and it wasn’t until we started the process of publishing this book that I realised there is a lot more to butterflies than just its beauty,” she said.
Krocha said the alarming figures that show the decline of butterflies should make people think about why it is so important to protect and conserve butterflies.
In the 38th publication of PenThrill, she said that the book is the first publication of its kind. She acknowledged the authors for the amount of work, love, and passion that have been invested in the book.
“I am sure this will go a long way in creating awareness about the need for butterfly conservation especially with Nagaland, as they have mentioned, being a butterfly hotspot,” she added.
As per research in the book, the most important reason for the disappearance of butterflies is the loss and fragmentation of habitat due to human activities like deforestation and the use of insecticides.
The book also suggested that native wild plants must thrive in open forests and roadsides to conserve butterflies.
Besides raising the issue of butterfly conservation, the book gives a guide on butterflying.
The book also provides information about the scientific classification, metamorphosis (life cycle), identification, the anatomy of butterflies and details on medium, large and small-sized butterflies.