Effect of Cattle Grazing on butterfly habitat in and around the villages in Panpatha Sanctuary.
We chose Bamera Kaseru and Pataur villages for this purpose.
Bamera Village (N23 47.296 EO80 59.050) is one of the major village situated in Panpatha sanctuary. This village has very good fertile land and due to irrigation facility through canal from Bamera dam the village is thriving.
Most of the houses has cattle's and at mid day time majority of buffalo's were kept in cattle shade while goats and cows were sent for grazing in jungle. This may be due to the commercial factor in case of cattle lifting by any predator. Compensation for cows and goat is more than their market value but less in case of a buffalo.
We didn't get much interaction with villagers as most of them were suspicious about our presence in the village and were not open to talk.
This is a complete farming village. Big crop fields with good water supply. Most of the fences around field and houses were either of Bamboo and Lantana or of Cactus. One of the best Cactus fences, about 30 yrs old, around houses can be seen in this village. This means the usual stuff that grows around fences to help butterflies is missing. During our 4 hour stay in Bamera village we just saw 3 or 4 different kind of butterflies (Common Grass Yellow, Common Gull and some sort of Grass Blue)
For some unknown reason the population of Red Shouldered Pretonia is better than House Sparrow in Bamera village. Some very good marsh land is available for water birds but all what we saw was a Large Egret and one Paddy Bird. Presence of butterflies and bees in Mustard and lentil fields as pollinators was negligible
Is the use of pesticide killing them??
Roads in the village or in good condition. Car and Tractor can pass easily. Most of the land is irrigated and there are quite a few water bodies in the village .Government Primary School has more children than the school building could accommodate them so two classes were operating in veranda. A women was cooking mid day meal for the pupil. This could be another reason for higher attendance in the school. But in Aanganwadi things were little different. In-charge told us that total 52 kids are registered but only 20 came today. Those all 20 were having mid day meal at the time we were there.
The usual habitat for butterflies was missing. It may be due to Buffalo and goat because these two eat most of the plants. Buffalo actually pulls the plant so up to some extent it destroys the rhizome also. Most of the lantana, that is major food plant for butterflies, was cut for making fence around crop field. Most of the houses had good amount of reserve supply of fire wood means villagers are regularly visiting the sanctuary area to collect fire wood. Means a constant disturbance to the wildlife of the area. None of the villager complained about the crop raiding by deer's or wild boar and neither we saw any sign of it.
In our opinion habitat for butterflies in and around Bamera village is very poor. Villagers need to learn about the benefit from pollinators. A good field can produce poor crop with lack of support from pollinators. Villagers told us that most of the butterflies are seen only in monsoon. This is when cattle food is in abundance. Surprisingly even in marshland the butterfly population was low.
Next day we saw a dead cattle but no vultures. Most of the meat was taken away by dogs and Jackal's. Bamera - kaseru village are situated in plains. No hills around. Nests of White Backed Vultures were also not seen around these villages.
Man Raman Singh, a resident of village Kaseru says he has not seen vultures since last 6-8 years. His other comment was, Man has become scavenger so vultures has no chance to survive.
We saw some very good mustard fields but hardly any butterflies or bees. In one such field there were only 10-12 Common Jezebel with one Lemon Pansy doing the job. High numbers of Jezebel due to Honey Suckle growing on Mahua trees.
An odd flowering Lantana was the only food plant for adult butterflies.
Kaseru and Bamera village are minimum 2-3 degrees hotter than Tala. Butea monosperma is already flowering here while trees in Tala even don't have buds.
Cattle grazing is the only reason for a poor butterfly habitat in this area.
We will be there again on the same dates in next months.