News & Media

Golden Birdwing butterflies arrive from Heathrow

The Living Rainforest has received a shipment of illegally imported butterfly pupae from the Philippines, which was intercepted by HM Customs at Heathrow.

The shipment received by The Living Rainforest contained 56 pupae of the Golden Birdwing (Troides rhadamanthus) species, which are part of the trade-restricted Ornithoptera genus. The genus includes the highly endangered Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) from Papua New Guinea. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) restricts trade in the entire Birdwing genus in an effort to help conserve threatened species.

Hatched butterflies at the eco-centre are released into the The Living Rainforest’s tropical houses to lay eggs and breed on their natural host plant, the Birthwort (Aristolochia spp.), and to live alongside approx. 650 other species of rainforest plants and animals.

Staff at the West Berkshire eco-centre are excited to be able to provide a home away from home to these beautiful butterflies and to help educate the public about the dangers of the illegal animal trade.

“So far we have had 2 males and 5 females emerge and we are hoping they will breed on our Aristolochia vines,” says Becky Manwaring, the eco-centre’s resident butterfly expert. On average, about one or two butterflies have hatched each day.

The males and females can be identified based on the colour of their abdomens and the amount of hair on their bodies (the males are hairier).

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008 at 4:42 pm and is filed under News.

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