28 May 2012

A national butterfly?

Dear Minister Mashatile
We are trying to promote butterflies and moths as educational and cultural icons for South Africa, and as indicators of biodiversity. If you read the latest issue of Veld &Flora, the Journal of the Botanical Society of South Africa, you'll see an article by Andre Claassens on the Mountain Pride butterfly.
This large, conspicuous and beautiful butterfly is found in our most threatened biomes - fynbos and montane grassland - across South Africa. As such it is worthy of promotion, but it is also sole pollinator of one of our most iconic flowers - the Red Disa orchid. How do we apply for this butterfly to be adopted as our National Butterfly to sit alongside the Blue Crane, King Protea, Galjoen, Springbok and Yellowwood Tree?
Kind regards
Steve Woodhall, President - Lepidopterists' Society of Africa (http://www.lepsoc.org.za/.)
Lepsoc's reasons for promoting it are:
It is large, spectacular and easy to see in our mountain scenery, from Cape Town to the Soutpansberg
It is (almost) SA endemic - found only here and in Zimbabwe
It is the sole pollinator for the Red Disa orchid
It is an icon of our threatened ecosystems - montane grassland and fynbos

Lepsoc has written to the Minister of Arts & Culture, Paul Mashatile, with no response since it was sent in November. They have also contacted the people behind SA's National Symbols page, on SouthAfrica.info. We need to bombard them with requests for this glorious butterfly to be adopted as our national one!
Read more here.

Photo: The Mountain Pride butterfly on Tritoniopsis triticea by Alice Notten, Kirstenbosch.

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