Butterfly distribution and habitat conservation status at A Rocha Dakatcha Nature Reserve, Kilifi County, Kenya
Diverse human pressures are degrading coastal forests with profound implications on invertebrate biodiversity. Butterfly species are key ecosystem indicators and their distribution may become a campaign tool towards conservation of specific habitats. However, a baseline survey of Dakatcha butterflies is long overdue, necessitating this study at A Rocha Dakatcha Nature Reserve (ARDNR) in Kilifi County. The objective was to identify Dakatcha butterfly species, their distribution, threats to the forest and conservation measures by the community in 2019. The modified pollard walk method was used to collect butterfly species from 21 transects from which the Shannon index of diversity, Margalef’s species richness index and evenness index were calculated. A total of 125 butterflies from five distinct vegetation types were captured and identified to represent 42 species and 25 genera from the documented 5 butterfly families in Kenya. Questionnaires were administered to twenty-nine community members on threats and conservation activities in ARDNR. The exercise confirmed that main threats to ARDNR butterfly habitat are agriculture, charcoal production from Diospyros corni and Dobera glabra and timber extraction from Manilkara mochisia, Brachystegia spiciformis, Thespesia danis and Brachylaena huillensis trees. The targeted deforestation of key tree species providing a suitable microclimate and an array of nectar sources to all threaten butterfly existence in the forest. Fortunately, there are five main stakeholders implementing diverse conservation projects including promotion of energy-saving jikos and beekeeping. In conclusion this study confirms existence of all five families of Kenyan butterflies in ARDNR. The presence of 13 butterfly species in the regenerating forest patch further affirming the importance of practical all-inclusive forest management and that community awareness enhances diversification of livelihood activities alongside sustainable forest utilization.
Copyright (c) 2021 Julius B O, W W Ngaruiya
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