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Dropping like butterflies in Lahore's Jallo Park.

Byline: Asif Mehmood

LAHORE -- A step into Lahore's Jallo Park and botanical garden is certain to leave visitors with a refreshing and rejuvenated feeling. The garden's butterfly house, in particular, is a sight to behold because of the presence of different types of butterflies that dwell inside the facility.

Lately, however, park authorities are facing difficulties in protecting the delicate creatures from the intensity of heat. Even though different species of butterflies are being bred in the facility, rising temperatures are killing scores of them on a daily basis.

According to park authorities, thousands of people visit the park from across the country and the butterfly house has always been a favourite spot for children and adults alike.

'Researchers have found 58 types of butterflies in Lahore, Murree and Rawalakot,' Nazneen Hussain, the caretaker of the butterfly house told The Express Tribune. '[Since they are very delicate], we breed and bring up these butterflies in accordance with the weather conditions.'

Spread over an 80-acre area in the eastern part of the park, the Punjab government built the mesmerising butterfly house in 2016 to create an artificial breeding facility for butterflies. Soon after its inauguration, the butterfly house became popular among visitors who showed a keen interest in learning about the insects, their types and life cycles.

'A few types of butterflies are bred in winter while others need warmer temperatures to breed. These days, there are eight to ten types of butterflies that we breed in summers,' Nazneen explained.

The roof of the butterfly house is made of fibre and even though some big air conditioners have been installed in the facility to maintain the desired temperature, rising outside temperatures make it very hot and humid inside. As a result, it has become difficult to spend even a few minutes inside the facility.

Workers at the butterfly house told The Express Tribune that the situation worsens during power outages and load-shedding hours when the temperature inside the butterfly house becomes extremely hot and suffocating.

'The generators also frequently run out of order, therefore, many butterflies die because of the intense heat,' a source at the butterfly house shared.

According to Nazneen Hussain, butterflies are extremely sensitive creatures and it is not easy to provide a suitable habitat for them.

'The highest survivable temperature for butterflies is 35 degrees Celsius. On average, adult butterflies can live up to one to two weeks while some can survive for more than 12 months,' she said.

The centre at Jallo Park breeds eight to ten various species of butterflies including the monarch, plain tiger, the little yellow, lemon, orange sulphur, common mormon, and yellow glassy tiger, among other types.

Initially, the larvae of various butterfly species used to be imported from the Philippines but now only the local types are used for breeding.

'During the day time, the butterflies are allowed to fly freely in the botanical garden but as the sun sets, the employees of the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) catch the butterflies and shift them to the butterfly house for their safety.

For the purpose of the facility's beautification, an artificial stream has also been built in the butterfly house which flows in the form of a small river. Various types of fish are also kept there to provide a spectacular sight to onlookers.

A bridge - made of wood and iron - has also been constructed inside the house from where the butterflies get a complete view of their habitat. Hundreds of saplings and trees of various types have been planted inside the facility where butterflies nest, breed and grow.

Apart from the presence of the butterflies, the botanical garden houses various types of plants and flowers, with some of them costing as much as Rs50,000. Beautiful corridors, lush green lawns and elegant water fountains present an attractive view for the visitors.

Speaking with The Express Tribune, a family that came to visit the botanical garden and the butterfly house praised the beauty and uniqueness of the place but stressed that the suffocation and heat inside the butterfly house were intolerable. The children of the family complained that they visited the butterfly house to catch a glimpse of the butterflies but, to their sheer disappointment, couldn't see any.

However, a visitor named Rabiya Hussain maintained that she saw several colourful butterflies at the house but said that the environment inside the facility was extremely painful to see.

Despite the shortage of butterflies at the facility, a young visitor named Muhammad Owais rated his experience of visiting the butterfly house positive.

'I couldn't see many butterflies but I saw a few unique ones together with plants and flowers that I had never seen before,' he said. 'The visit was worth it as it added a great deal to my knowledge.'
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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 22, 2019
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