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Old 02-10-2003, 07:45 AM
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Butterfly Conservation Project

By Geraldine Vilakiva & Grace Tiden - Divine Word University Journalism students

‘BEAUTIFUL MADANG’ as the name says is truly a unique and attractive place. The province has hectares of pristine wildlife as well as untouched tropical rainforests and marine life. There are many small islands to visit, good scuba diving spots and astonishing places to see.
One such place is the butterfly farming and conservation project located at Ohu village in the Gogol area of the province. The Ohu Butterfly farm is situated along the mountainside with a striking view of the coastline of Madang town. It takes approximately 45 minutes to get there by road and is truly a wonderful place to visit.

The Ohu Butterfly Farming and Conservation Project began in 1992.
The project was aimed at protecting the natural forest from a logging company operating in the Ohu area. The company has now scaled down its operations from clear felling the forests to farming selected species of trees, which are harvested for export.

The villagers who benefited from the former practice of logging no longer received royalties and could not support their families financially. In an effort to find alternate and environmental friendly ways to earn money, the village leaders met with some scientists from the Wau Ecology Institute in Morobe province to discuss their problems. Several alternatives were put forward and one was butterfly farming.

A display of the different types of butterfly species found on the Farm:
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Old 02-10-2003, 07:47 AM
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Hais Wasel, a local from the area, and other villagers thought the idea was good because there was no cost involved in starting the project and so in 1992, the butterfly farm was started.

“We thought the idea was good as it could generate income for the locals, it is an ecotourism project, creates job opportunities for the villagers and it is also a conservation project,” said Hais, 40, who is now the overall coordinator of the Butterfly Farming and Conservation Project.

After 11 years, the butterfly farm is getting bigger and better and has attracted tourists as well as international scientists to do research on the farm and in the surrounding pristine tropical forest.

Today, the farm extends to an area of five hectares and has many species of butterflies breeding and living there. It is an open farm in which the butterflies come and go as they please and are not kept in a specific area for breeding and feeding purposes. Hais, who has background in ecology and entomology after many years of working at the Wau Ecology Institute, has used a variety of techniques to attract these lovely insects to actually living and breed in the area. Planting varieties of flowering plants was one major way to attract them.

“Butterflies are always attracted by a colorful flowering plant and with the many flowers in the farm, it has attracted many different species of butterfly into the farm,” says Hais.

Another was growing the plant known as Tagala all around the farm. The plant is a member of the Aristolochila family, which butterflies love to eat and breed on.

The farm also contains one of the rarest butterfly species in the world. This butterfly is commonly known as Paradisia-Paradisa while its scientific name is Kradibia Ohuensis Weiblen. An American Entomologist discovered it in 1999, after conducting a research into the types of butterflies found in that area.

This rare finding paved way for more researches to be carried out by other scientists in the area to find out more about the insects and plants that live there.

Hais said they usually sell the butterflies to the insitute in Morobe province but he is now planning to sell directly overseas. They only sell butterflies that are not protected.


Hais Wasel at the Ohu Butterfly Farm:
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