Friday, November 7, 2014

Butterflies in the Chyulu Hills

Campi ya Kanzi is an excellent place to see big game like lions and elephants, but there are also an extraordinary number of small creatures here that receive less attention.  The Chyulu Hills are teeming with little life forms, like insects, birds, and lizards.  If you know how to look for them, you'll open your eyes to a completely new type of safari and the list of creatures you see will grow exponentially.

Did you know the Chyulu Hills are home to over 200 species of butterflies?  By comparison, Great Britain has only 58 species.  The Chyulus have at least as many butterflies as the entire country of Italy, boasting extraordinary diversity in a relatively small range.

A beautiful citrus swallowtail (Papilio demodocus) pays a visit to our water hole.

A male yellow pansy butterfly (Junonia hierta) also spends time at our water hole.

Last week, Campi ya Kanzi invited butterfly experts Luca Borghesio and Lawrence Wagura to visit the Chyulu Hills to teach our guides about butterflies.  Luca and Lawrence last visited in 2011, and we were thrilled to have them back again.  They accompanied our guides on scenic hikes and game drives to find butterflies in action.

Luca Borghesio searches for butterflies and plant specimens in the Chulu Hills.

Lawrence Wagura helps Pashiet to identify a butterfly in the cloud forest.

Luca Borghesio points out some identifying features of a butterfly while using a field guide.

After observing butterflies in the wilderness, our guides had the opportunity to examine specimens under a microscope.  Butterflies have compound eyes, antennae, and a long proboscis that is used to drink nectar.  These features are much easier to study when magnified.

Parashi examines a butterfly under the microscope while Luca Belpietro and Pashiet look on.

Our safari guides compared and identified butterfly specimens
while also learning how butterflies differ from moths and other insects.

Thank you, Luca and Lawrence, for teaching us so much about butterflies!  The guides of Campi ya Kanzi have a new appreciation for the delicate, colorful creatures that flutter through the Chyulus.

The guides gathered for a meeting in Tembo House to take a closer look at butterflies.

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