77 new butterfly species found near Mumbai

Mumbai, Aug 10:

As many as 77 new species of butterflies have been found in the ecologically sensitive forest of Matheran hill station near Mumbai during a study conducted there over the last eight years, according to the Bombay Natural History Society.

With this, the total number of butterfly species in the Matheran forest has now gone up to 140, city-based Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) scientist Mandar Sawant said.

Matheran is spread over an area of 214.73 sq km and is located about 80 km from the Maharashtra capital.

“The eight-year-long rigorous study undertaken by BNHS from 2011 to 2019 has resulted in the discovery of 77 new species of butterflies in Matheran,” the non-governmental research organisation said in a statement.

“After a span of 125 years, for the first time such a study was undertaken to discover the flying beauties at Matheran,” it said. The research paper is an outcome of eight years of field work with 22,833 observations and usage of colour bar- coding system by Mandar Sawant, Dr Nikhil Modak and Sagar Sarang in the forests of Matheran.

In 1894, British researcher J A Betham surveyed the hills of Matheran for its butterfly diversity.

He had reported 78 butterfly species back then and expressed hope that someone from Bombay (now Mumbai) would take up survey in future and might report some more butterflies.

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