There are numerous ‘butterfly hotspots’ in Uttarakhand. The landscape varies from Siwalik Foothills to snow clad mountains. Each of these zones represents an assemblage of butterfly species. The butterfly observation, photography and scientific documentation are not very popular in Uttarakhand. There are many potential areas, which have not been explored. Like in forestry, in butterfly observation, identification and documentation, British Era books guide us!
For the altitude, distribution and seasons, we blindly follow old books, written from late 1850s to 1940s. With the introduction of exotic plants, improved and genetically modified agricultural crops and fruits, the macro- and micro-ecosystems of butterflies have been affected. The list of host plants needs to be re-visited and updated. So much has changed in terms of vegetation, land use, fauna population, water and air regime that it is bound to have profound effect on butterfly distribution. We must look at the present scenario de novo. Butterflies are not mentioned in working plans of divisions and management plans of protected areas. These plans list flora and fauna of forests or protected areas but rarely butterflies are listed or mentioned. Uttarakhand has ~500 butterfly species which is more than many big states. There is urgent need to popularize butterfly watching and linking it to livelihood of local people.
The Devalsari Group in Tehri Garhwal and Dharchula Group in Pithoragarh are doing good work in this direction. I am positive that things will move in right direction and butterflying in Uttarakhand will become popular and important activity of tourism including eco-tourism.
List of Butterfly Hotspots of Uttarakhand:
- Butterfly Research Center, Bhimtal
- Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Dehradun
- Neer Garh Waterfall, Rishikesh
- Lacchiwalah Butterfly Garden, Dehradun
- Jhajra Butterfly Garden, Dehradun
- Dehradun Zoo, Dehradun
- Chopta, Gopeshwar, NDBR
- Botanical Gardens & Butterfly Park, Nainital
- Bhimtal Lake, Nainital
- Naukuchialtal Lake, Nainital
- Sarmoli, Munsiari, Pithoragarh
- Kilbury-Vinayak, Naina Devi Conservation Reserve
- Nainital Zoo, Nainital
- Devalsari, Tehri Garhwal