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Fighting Poverty and Deforestation through Butterfly Farming

To help people understand why the farming of entomology (insects) is a globally beneficial process we've compiled this page of scientific studies and sources.
"Butterfly farming is well suited as an alternative income source for forest people because it requires little investment, the basic skills and concepts are easily learned and it uses simple equipment and materials. It involves the release of female butterflies, wild or bred in captivity, into enclosures filled with an abundance of native plants and the subsequent removal of ova laid by these individuals. The eggs are then placed in cages where they are monitored throughout their development into pupae. Alternatively, eggs and/or pupae can be harvested from the protected forest. The pupae are then collected and shipped to butterfly exhibits and other clients around the world. Successful farming of native butterflies depends on the native vegetation of the area that provides the habitat for these species. As a result, butterfly farmers are encouraged to conserve their forests, as they see the linkage between their livelihood and the presence of healthy forested areas."
"Is butterfly farming sustainable?
A single female butterfly can lay between 250 and 500 eggs in her lifetime, so very few female butterflies are required to start captive populations. After starting a population, there is really only need to return to the wild occasionally to catch wild males to ensure the captive population has a good genetic diversity.
Thus, the reproductive capacity of butterflies ensures there the very limited extraction of wild butterflies by the farmers will have no effect on the health of the wild population. The following generation will quickly fill any space left in the previous generation. 
The primary cause of butterfly extinction is habitat destruction, and by providing and economic incentive to conserve butterfly habitat, the Amani Butterfly Project is helping to conserve butterflies along with all the other amazing animal species found in the East Usambara Mountains" 

What is the Amani Butterfly Project?
A non-profit organisation that helps 400 rural Tanzanians from 6 villages in the East Usambara Mountains farm and market native butterflies. The mission of the project is to reduce poverty and create incentive for forest conservation. 

The butterfly farmers are represented in the project by an elected board of 12 volunteer butterfly farmers who set the project's prices, policies and control of the dispersal of the project's village development fund (10% of butterfly farmer earnings). The fund is used for projects that benefit the whole community like building schools.
Source: www.amanibutterflyproject.org/project.htm


Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, covering an area of 42 000 ha on Kenya's north coast, is internationally recognized as a biologically important area providing essential habitat for numerous endemic, endangered and threatened animal and plant species. This forest is the last remaining section of coastal forest that once extended from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. Approximately 110 000 people live in the forest. Rapid population growth has placed considerable pressure on the forest for provision of wood for fuel and construction, as well as meat and agricultural land. The long-term future of the forest depends on the support of the local people, their leaders and politicians for its conservation.

The Kipepeo Project, administrated by the East African Natural History Society in partnership with the National Museums of Kenya, was set up in 1993. The objectives of the project are to:

  • link conservation and development through sustainable utilization of butterfly biodiversity in the forest for the benefit of surrounding rural communities;
  • win support for forest conservation by enabling local people to benefit from the forest's biodiversity;
  • help demonstrate that the forest can provide new and unexpected income sources and that it can have greater value as intact wildland than as land cleared for agriculture;
  • help diversify coastal tourism by establishing a novel ecotourism attraction through the development of an exhibit of live butterflies and other invertebrates;
  • support conservation education activities relating to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest;
  • provide employment and earn export revenues for Kenya.

The project initially involved 152 households in four communities on the eastern margin of the forest. By early 2001 there were 546 farmers involved in the project, representing 15 of the 18 communities in and around the forest, and plans had begun to involve the remaining three communities.

To determine the effect of capture on butterfly species abundance and diversity, wild butterfly populations in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest were monitored before the start of the project and after four years of collection. The results revealed no significant change in abundance of either collected or uncollected species, suggesting that butterfly capture was having no profound impact on wild populations.

Source: www.fao.org/docrep/004/y3582e/y3582e10.htm




Butterflies can be farmed worldwide, wherever they are native to.

For more information on how butterflies grow check out this video!





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