The overall aim of the project is to make a species list and collection of butterflies found around Mvuu Lodge and Camp in Liwonde National Park. The project also aims to make a collection for exhibition of the full species of butterflies for Mvuu Camp and Lodge, so that visitors can appreciate more than just mammals, birds and reptiles found in Liwonde National Park, in the Mvuu area. Another collection will be for the museum in Blantyre so that the nation, students and tourists can appreciate the butterflies of Malawi.
Researcher: Yankho Kaimila
Region: Liwonde, Malawi
Organization: Museums of Malawi
Yankho has a bachelor’s degree in pure science with a credit from the University of Malawi, Chancellor college. She majored in biology and minored in chemistry. She is one of the two entomologists working for museums of Malawi.
Liwonde National Parkis located in Machinga District on the upper Shire River floodplain, east ofthe river. The park is 548 square kilometres in area. After going through the parkliterature, it was noted that whilst there is a list of mammal and birdspecies, there is none for insects. This project aimed to address the gap bymaking a list of butterflies as a start for the entomology literature.
- Catch the butterflies, set them and then identify them at species level for inventory.
- Organise the butterflies and mount them in display cases to create collections for exhibition at Mvuu Camp and Chichiri Museum in Blantyre.
- Write an article documenting the results and send it to the Trust and peer-reviewed journals for publication, as well as send the results of the inventory to government.
A total of six families of butterflies were collected in the dry season, namely Pieridae (13), Nymphalidae (14), Satyridae (4), Danadae (2), Acraeidae (2) and Lycaenidae (2). In total, 37 different species were collected. This however is not the true representation of a full species list of Liwonde National Park butterflies. The reason why only 37 species were collected is because August is the dry season and most plants are losing or have lost their leaves reducing the amount of food available. Most of the butterflies flourish during the wet season because there is a lot of food.
The quality of butterflies found during the dry season is poor which is attributed to the type of diet available. Most of the butterflies collected were old or very small species. All the collected specimens were found near watering holes and along the Shire River where some plant species were still flowering.
It is my recommendation continues in order to get a full species list of Liwonde national Park. The next survey is proposed for the wet season, which according to my experience will produce many more species. The display cases made from the wet season will have larger and more beautiful specimens as they will be well fed and hydrated.