The Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust was awarded a Mazda Foundation grant of $8,000 back in April so it could embark upon an important project to monitor and protect New Zealand’s endemic butterflies.
With funding from the Mazda Foundation, Jacqui Knight from the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust headed off in September for a whirlwind tour of New Zealand. In just three weeks Jacqui covered over 6,000kms visiting twenty different towns throughout New Zealand from Invercargill to the Far North, in the shiny new butterfly-embellished Mazda3 she fondly refers to as ‘Monica Mazda’ (think Monarch-a Mazda)!
Jacqui says the response to the tour has been very positive.
“People are starting to realize they are seeing fewer butterflies each and every year. Through these workshops we have recruited a number of people who have committed to regular walks throughout the warmer months, noting down the butterflies they see and then inputting the data into our website.
“Data from these monitoring walks is already coming through and we expect to receive a lot more over the summer months. This will give us an idea of how many species we have and where they’re found – vital information if we are to be able to put conservation measures in place.”
South Island lepidopterist Brian Patrick says that sadly young New Zealanders are no longer familiar with even the most common butterflies because of the elimination of them from our cities, towns and countryside.
“It’s teetering on the edge of survival,” he said. “The plight of our butterfly fauna is heavily dependant on human respect if they are to survive and thrive.”