The Ramsgate Butterfly Valley Mvutshini Valley
(Place of the hippo)
“Butterflies have no boundaries and are free to go anywhere they please – Wherever there may be a host plant – eventually there will be the butterfly – who’s host plant it is”. Dr. DA Swanepoel 1969
Mvutshini Valley also known as The Butterfly Valley Conservancy
1st Relocation Project: La Lucia Forest, North Coast, KZN
The first large challenge came in 1994 when a famous collecting area called La Lucia and another close by hot spot called Peace Cottage in Durban North lost all their butterflies due to sugar cane crop spraying. The wind was blowing towards the sea when the crop spraying took place by air from Virginia Airport. A month later there were no insects to be found. Not even a house fly. These two closely related forests were dead at the time of year when they were always in abundance with butterflies. 302 butterfly species were lost (Butterfly to the right; Colotis eroni millari – extremely rare) The program was led by Deryck Earl Whiteley and Ivor Migdoll with Earle Whiteley as an assistant. After a long wait for the rains to come and wash away the poisonous residue from the forest leaves, knowing that all the host plants that had been there for hundreds of years were still bearing new foliag, the big job began. (Butterfly to the left; Belinois orgygia – extremely rare and endemic to the forest)
Many long trips to Mbotjie forest were undertaken (every weekend a 10hr drive there and back from Durban) to collect butterflies and release them at La Lucia and Peace Cottage. The selection of butterflies was made by Dr. DA Swanepoel at the time who had originally discovered these areas and made them famous for butterfly collectors in South Africa. After three long years La Lucia and Peace Cottage became what they were like before the disaster chemical crop spraying took place in 1994. All 302 butterfly species were back and thriving. Unfortunatel, the La Lucia forest fell under the hammer of development in 2007, with new roads and huge building. Many large trees were cut down and the remaining small portion of the forest was fenced in, becoming inaccessible to anyone. Many alien plants have destroyed much of the forest and little remains now of its previous fame to the scientific community.
2nd Relocation Project; Mvutshini South Coast, KZN Ramsgate Butterfly Valley
The Mvutshini Valley is the second largest relocation project we have worked on and accomplished successfully. The program was led by Deryck Earl Whiteley and Earle Whiteley who were assisted by George Van der Merve, Chantall Meyer and some friends in the local community.
The Ibilanghlolo River runs through the centre of the Mvutshini Valley. In 2000 a senses was conducted by Conservation of Butterflies in South Africa (CBISA) in peak butterfly season for the year and 42 butterfly species were recorded. Over the years reintroduction of various host plants (originally found in the area) and butterfly species were completed. A new senses was conducted in 2005, at the same time of year of the previous senses in 2000. 212 butterfly species were recorded. A remarkable feat. (Butterfly to the left; Eurytela hiarbas f. vashti – extremely rare and endemic to the forest) The importance of this valley was highlighted by many forms of media: The Daily News, South Coast Herald, The Fever, Die Beeld, The Citizen and others: TV – 50/50 and radio station East Coast Radio, between the years of 2002 to 2007. Research teams of scientists from South Africa and Russia converged on this sacred valley and discovered many new insect species that are endemic to the area. A new butterfly, a new moth, 9 new wasp species and 7 new fly species were discovered. These have all been scientifically recorded by the Natal Museum in KZN, under the close supervision of Dr. Mike Mostovski. It is important to understand that there is always something that can be done to save what little we have left of our natural butterfly heritage.
Latest Update 2013
The launching of the Ramsgate Butterfly Sanctuary took place in 2001 and was opened to the general public in 2002. In attendance was the media; Daily News, South Coast Herald, The Fever, Die Beeld, The Citizen, TV in the form of 50/50 and radio station East Coast Radio. Throughout the day of the opening, 14th January 200, 427 members of the public visited the Ramsgate Butterfly Sanctuary. The Ramsgate Butterfly Sanctuary ran for a good six years until October, 2008 under the supervision of Conservation of Butterflies in South Africa (CBISA) and the South African Butterfly Breeding Association (SABBA). Through the years of operation, it was discovered that the present layout was not suitable for a Butterfly Sanctuary and that the changes that would have to be made would be rather expensive. CBISA and SABBA as a whole were not prepared to invest this kind of capital on leased land. The decision was made to end occupation of the leased land and to acquire land that was more favourable in the same area. All parties concerned agreed and CBISA and SABBA vacated the premises in August 2008. It has since changed hands and its name was changed.