Bengaluru has several well known green spaces that serve as the city’s lungs: Lalbagh, Cubbon Park, Turahalli, and Bannerghatta National Park, to name a few. In addition, several places are relatively unknown. Nestled between the busy Bannerghatta Road and the packed Puttenahalli Lake is one such place – Doresanipalya Research Station campus a.k.a. JP Nagar Reserve Forest.
Before Bengaluru began its “development”, Doresanipalya used to be a part of the Bannerghatta National Park. Today, this 25-acre patch of forest is like an island of green amidst the fast expanding concrete jungle that surrounds it. The forest department maintains several of its offices here. But for the people who live in the surrounding areas, this forest represents a place where one can go for a morning walk and some much needed fresh air.
Many of these morning walkers are oblivious to the rich bio-diversity of trees, birds, mammals and insect life that this forest supports.
I have been visiting Doresanipalya Research Station campus for more than 5 years now. During this period, I have observed and recorded 127 butterfly species. All families of butterflies are found here, though the number of species and the count of individuals vary with the season. On a typical 3-hour walk in the forest, one can easily observe 50+ species of butterflies.
The most encouraging part over these 5 years has been the fact that, every year, the forest has yielded new species. Just this year, we’ve added 2 more species to the list of species found in this forest – Red Helen and Monkey Puzzle.
The Regulars and the Rarities
The most commonly seen species in this forest is the Common Grass Yellow.The Common Emigrant comes in at second place.
There are some butterfly species which are not very common in other parts of Bangalore. However, they are found regularly and in relatively large numbers in Doresanipalya. Baronet and Large Oakblue are two such species.
There are several uncommon butterfly species which have put in a solitary appearance, never to be seen again – Spotted Angle, Common Banded Peacock, Peacock Royal, Lobed Beak, White-tipped Lineblue, Redspot. We continue to watch out for these in our fortnightly walks.
There are also several uncommon butterfly species which continue to be spotted on a regular basis. Pointed Ciliate Blue, Monkey Puzzle, Karwar Swift, Moore’s Ace, Indian Palm Bob, Banded Blue Pierrot, Suffused Double-banded Judy, Joker, Bamboo Treebrown, Common Bluebottle, and Spot Swordtail, to name a few.
The forest is also home to Schedule 1 species (accorded the highest level of protection and punishment under the Wildlife Act of India, 1972), such as the Crimson Rose – Pachliopta hector. All life-cycle stages of this species, from egg-laying, eggs, caterpillar, pupa, emerging butterfly and adults have been observed from here, and this species is quite common on this campus.
In addition to these resident species, the forest campus also serves as a roosting ground for migrating crows and tigers during the migrating seasons – Common Crow, Double Banded Crow, Blue Tiger and Dark Blue Tiger. India’s smallest butterflies – Grass Jewel and Tiny Grass Blue are also found here.
Brightly coloured ones, dull ones, those that are easily visible, ones that are camouflaged, large ones, and the smallest ones – all butterfly species call this campus their home.
Butterfly Walks and Butterfly Conservation
A few years ago, some butterfly watchers and scientists came together to form a group, which was christened BBC – Bangalore Butterfly Club. The objective of this group was four-fold:
- Encourage butterfly watching by creating a forum for sharing information.
- Conduct fortnightly walks to create awareness and exchange ideas.
- Collect quantitative data which is then shared with researchers and scientists.
- Participate in activities oriented towards butterfly conservation.
The butterfly walks started as a solitary walk at Doresanipalya 5 years ago, and today, we conduct three regular fortnightly walks. The other two are conducted at Bangalore University (on for the last 4 years) and Hennur forest (started 2 months ago).
With a view to sustain and support the existing habitat in the Doresanipalya Research Station campus, in early June 2016, the forest department, with help from volunteers, morning walkers, school children, and members of BBC, conducted a tree plantation drive. Butterfly larval host plants (LHP) were identified and planted in various open parts of the campus, as a part of this initiative.
Note: You too can be a part of BBC, the fortnightly walks, and any associated activities. All you need to do is drop in an email to Rohit at: email@example.com, to be added to the mailing list. These walks are free. All you need to bring is an interest in butterflies, a pen & paper, and maybe a camera (if you are interested in photography).