Taipei residents call for better protection of butterfly colonies

Taipei Times – Peggy Lu

DWINDLING SPECIES: Urban development has dealt a blow to the number of butterfly colonies in Taiwan, which used to be known as a key habitat

Thousands of Taipei residents flocked to Dajia Riverside Park yesterday, gathering together to form the shape of a giant butterfly while urging the public to save the creatures from extinction.

Shining Culture and Education Foundation Chairman Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) said that the number of butterfly colonies in a country are an index of the soundness of its ecosystem.

Taiwan used to be known as the “Butterfly Kingdom,” Lai said, but many of its species, including birdwing butterflies and broad-tailed swallowtail butterflies, now face extinction because of urban development.

“In our prime we used to have more than 400 species of butterfly,” Lai said.

extinct “Now some 20 of them are extinct — a signal that we need to start taking the preservation of our ecosystem more seriously,” Lai said.

More than 10,000 people joined the activity yesterday, donning orange, teal, blue and yellow caps before standing in corresponding color zones to create a gigantic butterfly almost 60m wide.

It was the largest butterfly assembly involving the largest number of people and covering the biggest area, Lai said.

The foundation has an online poll to find the 10 most beautiful butterflies in the country, Lai told participants, with the Birdwing butterfly currently leading with 98,314 votes.

He urged participants to go to the foundation’s Web site to vote and learn more about Taiwanese butterflies.

eco-preservation Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) echoed Lai’s words on ecosystem preservation and commended businesspeople such as Lai for their regular donations to charity and public welfare.

“Environmental conservation should be a joint effort undertaken by all members of society,” he said. “The grand prize for entering the butterfly vote is a car. May I suggest that we give out eco-friendly bicycles next time?”

“There are bicycle trails that extend from the Dajia Riverside Park westward to Guandu (關渡) and Tamsui (淡水), or eastward to Nangang (南港). I encourage you to explore the city and appreciate its beauty that way,” he said.

To join the poll, visit http://www.shininggroup.com.tw/butterfly/vote.php.

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Filed under animals, asia, biodiversity, environment, nature, zoology

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