Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tropical rainforest butterflies

Every time I go hiking in the tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains or Table Mountain or the Northern Coast of Manokwari regency, I will see a lot of species of butterflies. They are really beautiful. Butterfly come out of their places in the morning at around ten. They feed on the nectar of wild flowers in the rainforest. Although in the international market, the price of butterfly from the tropical rainforest of West Papua is high, I personally not interested in catching them for export. Butterflies sleep on top or underneath the green leaves of plants in the jungle. Some even spread their wings to resemble the leaves. The colors of their wings are various. There are butterflies whose colors are brown and yellow but there is also a species whose color is purely white. 
Last September, two researchers from the University of Milan in Italy visited Manokwari to study butterflies. They liked to catch the butterflies. The butterflies which they had caught were then kept in white paper and put into a small plastic container. Ivan, one of the researchers, could mention the name or the genus of the species. He was lucky when he could catch a troides. Because I did not know anything about the butterfly kingdom, I could only say that I could tolerate his action in catching these insects if they are purely for the purpose of research. Butterflies play very important role in supporting the pollination of flowers in the tropical rainforest. 

Besides butterflies, other insect that also does similar function is bee. The nectar which the bee has collected will become delicious honey that is good for our health. Based on the observation of the important function of butterflies on the survivability of tropical rainforest, I appeal to all the people who like to go hiking in the tropical rainforest to respect butterflies but not catching or disturbing them. While these tiny and weak insects help the pollination of flowers thus accelerating the fruiting process, the birds that eat the fruits help disperse the seeds of the fruits. 
Rainforest of Arfak mountains and the northern coast of Manokwari regency in Indonesia are often visited by tourists who want to see bird wing  butterflies and birds. This kind of ecotourism activities directly gives economic benefits to the local people living in and around the forest. By introducing ecotourism into the region, I hope that together with the indigenous Papuan people, we can preserve the forest and still make a living from it. 
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