RIOJA, Peru – Butterflies of all imaginable colors, shapes and sizes have found a sanctuary in a nook of the Peruvian Amazon, where visitors enjoy their beauty and discover how deforestation threatens the Andean nation, which is home to the most species of this colorful insect.
“Butterflies are a natural indicator of an ecosystem’s quality and condition,” Maria Bustamante, president of the United for Palestina Sustainable Development Association (ADESUP), told EFE.
The organization is dedicated to rural tourism, managing the butterfly farm and organizing visits to famous Palestina Cave.
There are around 4,000 types of butterflies in Peru and some of the most eye-catching are raised in a humble farmhouse in the northern region of San Martin built by residents when they realized the butterflies were disappearing as forests decreased in size.
The goal is not only to raise environmental awareness among tourists, but also to double the butterfly population of San Martin, one of the areas in Peru most affected by deforestation, losing around 20,000 hectares (49,382 acres) of Amazon forest each year.
The breeders, mostly women, harvest butterfly eggs left on leaves and feed the caterpillars until they metamorphose, returning them to the farm or setting them free in the forest.
Admission to this butterfly kingdom is only 10 soles ($3.08).