By Pavani Jayasinghe Munagamage
Photos Indika Handuwala
A hidden treasure, the urban open-air butterfly garden is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. The butterfly garden, on which work and construction commenced in October 2011, is now situated in Moratuwa next to the MJF Charitable Foundation, Sri Lanka, which focuses on important preservation methods to help valuable species that are slowly moving towards endangerment.
Dilmah Conservation’s butterfly garden began with the need to preserve these organisms that are crucial for the environment and the balance of our ecosystem.
Butterflies play many key roles in the ecosystem, and it is sad to learn that sightings of butterflies have decreased over time. Butterflies are known to be immensely important to the flora and fauna of the world, helping maintain natural order in their own way with the small flutter of their wings.
Over 60 different species of butterflies call this sanctuary their home, and the number is increasing as a number of butterflies are still being discovered. With the garden also offering a plethora of plants handpicked by entomologists and botanists with the main purpose of attracting certain butterfly species, it has now grown to provide a suitable habitat for butterflies in general to inhabit.
The location itself bodes well for a butterfly sanctuary due to its secluded space in Moratuwa, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing a proper escape to the right kind of environment, even for humans.
In hopes of creating a habitat in which co-existence is possible, the sanctuary and the Dilmah Conservation project combined with the MJF Centre In Moratuwa, allow surroundings of a perfect blend of human and nature in its very own habitat, encouraging co-existence in a shared environment.
Rajika Gamage, a naturalist and the author of several books on wildlife, and Dilmah Conservation were the main masterminds behind this project which grew from a concept Gamage had envisioned. In a brief conversation with Gamage, we were educated as to how important butterflies are to our ecosystem and how the construction of the butterfly garden had helped in creating an atmosphere for various butterflies to co-exist. Gamage told us how even on the rainiest day, butterflies can be seen at the sanctuary. He explained that they now had a place to be, which is important as the number of butterflies are decreasing every day.
The Dilmah Conservation butterfly garden is open at the MJF Centre in Moratuwa with a serene environment filled with trees and flowers. The public is allowed to access the sanctuary every Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.
Do visit it for a great walk and witness the plethora of butterflies you had most probably forgotten about in the midst of your busy city life.