INVESTIGATION OF THE IMPACT OF BUTTERFLY FARMING & HARVESTING ON WILD BUTTERFLY POPULATION IN THE NATURE RESERVE OF ARABUKO SOKOKE FOREST, KILIFI COUNTY KENYA
ADEN, HUSSEIN ABDULLAHI
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Butterflies are among the most studied Lepidoptera in the world, More recently, studies of butterflies in tropical rain forests have resulted in a cottage industry as "farms" or "ranches" where live butterflies are reared under controlled conditions to provide a supply of pupa for exhibits to live insects farms in Unites states of America and Europe. This has been introduced in participatory forest management practices in various parts of the world as it provides an alternative livelihood to the rural population living adjacent to these forests in return the locals help in forest conservation. Butterfly farming involve the extraction of female stock from the forest for onward breeding in captivity and exporting the pupae to live insects exhibits abroad. Different butterfly species have different requirements, and these requirements change throughout their life cycles. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether farming has any impact on wild butterfly populations in the nature reserve of Arabuko Sokoke forest. There is a risk that the wild populations may be depleted. Earlier study revealed there had been no adverse impacts. In order to reassess the situation to see whether more intensive farming including the collection of the wild pupae from the forest, has changed the status of the wild butterflies since 1997, a survey was conducted along a permanent transects in the three distinct vegetation type of Brachystegia, Cynometra and Mixed region in 2017. The same technique used to collect data in permanent transects during the initial survey by Kipepeo project was employed again to ensure that results were comparable. Physical observation of butterflies using pollard walk 1500M standardized transects was used, and the sites were surveyed during the raining and dry seasons for 10 months. A potential seasonality difference in butterfly composition within the sites was also tested. The results revealed total of 106 species of 49 genera and 5 families. Shannon–Weiner diversity indices and evenness showed (H’) 1.42, (E’) 0.79 respectively. The spearman’s rank correlation was run to determine the vi relationship between the harvested and non-harvested for 1997 results against 2017, the results revealed there was a strong positive correlation between the rank abundance in 1997 againts 2017, harvested rs=0.25, unharvested rs=0.59 and rs= 0.84 for all species in 2017, which was statistically significant. The overall butterfly abundance was very different in 2017 as compared to the 1997. The results show that there were no significant change in rank abundance for the identified 60 set of species and that some harvested species ranked higher in abundance in 2017 than they had in 1997. With the above results, butterfly harvesting looks not be having any impact on wild populatons.