‘I can see a Red Flash,’ whispered Pranad. He was looking through his binoculars at a wet, muddy patch of earth on the edge of a waterhole in Kanha National Park. We all picked up our binoculars and started scanning for this uncommon butterfly. We could not spot it at the first go as there were literally hundreds of butterflies at the spot. We had to carefully eliminate all the Large Oakblues, Indian Oakblues, Blue Tigers, Common Crows, Common Emigrants, Zebra Blues and several other species which had gathered in this corner of the waterhole, but finally we managed spot this pale, white butterfly, with flashy-orange inside. We were actually out on a morning safari in the park to look for mammals and birds, but the safaris eventually turned into a butterfly and dragonfly-watching event.
As the summer is reaching its peak, the time of the year for butterfly-watching is perfect. These beautiful insects gather in big numbers alongside waterholes and in cool, shaded streams inside the forest. There is a wet stream in the forest, just a couple of kilometres from Mukki Gate, which is probably the best butterfly hotspot in the park. Rakesh, our naturalist, once exclaimed that there were over 10,000 butterflies in the stream after he came back from the safari. Once, when I had stopped at the stream, I counted 37 species at the spot, flittering or resting amongst the vegetation along the stream.
It is not just Kanha National Park which is a hotspot for butterflies. We have been getting some beautiful and rare butterflies in the Singinawa Jungle Lodge premises as well. The best part about spotting a butterfly in the lodge is that you can get close to the butterfly and click some nice images too. Over the last few weeks, we have spotted and photographed some rarities such as Common Onyx, Long-banded Silverline, Common Tinsel, Copper Flash, Indigo Flash, Apefly and a few others on the lodge grounds. While some of these butterflies turned out to be first records for entire Central India region, others are scarcely recorded here.
One of the reasons we have so many butterflies in the lodge premises is that we have planted thousands of plants which are beneficial for the butterflies in our lodge. We have been careful in selecting only indigenous species of plants, so that habitat is not altered in any way. Also, our naturalists take immense pleasure and pride in documenting the lesser-known fauna, such as butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, etc. These new finds have just aided in boosting our enthusiasm and we hope to find many more interesting and rare creatures in the lodge and in the national park.
Naturalist, Singinawa Jungle Lodge