Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Karoo BioGaps butterfly survey team

By Hanna du Toit

The Karoo BioGaps butterfly survey team is gearing up for our second field season. During the first season from September 2016 to March 2017 we visited 34 sites; obtained 370 species occurrence records and collected 140 DNA samples. This year we are focusing on sites we haven't visited yet and those from which we got a low yield in the last season. We have 8 expert surveyors to cover the whole BioGaps region and this is quite a challenge because the distances to cover are vast. We only know when we get to a site whether it has had rain, which is critical to our butterflies emerging. This coming season we will only visit a site after we have good evidence that it has had rain.

The cooperation we have received from the farmers has been amazing and in many cases they have been able to provide wonderful accommodation. It has been a privilege to visit your farms and see how you are true custodians of the earth. We will be visiting many of you again and look forward to renewing our acquaintance. Despite some fairly difficult farm roads so far we have only got stuck once, and were very grateful to see a farmer arriving with some well designed towing equipment to pull us out. Thanks a million for that!

Some pictures taken in the field trip.

African Monarch - Danaus chryssippus

Common diadem - Hypolimnas misippus

Karoo landscape

Stuck in the mud

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