Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust

An important project to monitor and protect New Zealand’s native Monarch Butterfly is about to take flight thanks to an $8,000 grant by the Mazda Foundation for a nation-wide research project.

Jacqui Knight, Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trustee, said the grant will enable the Trust to embark on a much-needed national research project to find out whether butterfly populations in New Zealand are declining as suspected, and look at what can be done to reverse any adverse impact.

“There has been little research carried out on New Zealand’s beautiful and unique butterfly populations, and if we are to conserve species effectively, it is vital that we monitor how they are faring,” said Jacquie Knight.

“The Mazda Foundation grant will enable us to conduct workshops around New Zealand to recruit and train people for a butterfly transect monitoring programme and a butterfly tagging programme.”

The butterfly transect monitoring programme involves people walking a set route, each week on warm, sunny days between October and March during which they record details of the butterflies they observe in a set space around them.

“This is something that anybody could become involved in and is a simple and enjoyable way for people to make a difference,” said Jacqui Knight.

“When undertaken over a series of years it provides vital information on butterfly populations and early warnings of species’ decline so we can implement conservation measures before entire species are lost.”

The tagging programme will provide valuable information on butterflies’ longevity and dispersal throughout New Zealand as well as their over-wintering habits.