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The flying gold. See how coastal women makes Ksh.450,000 monthly from butterflies.

Arabuko Sokoke forest is the largest remaining part of indigenous coastal forest that once covered Somalia coastline, through Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. The research found out that Arabuko Sokoke forest is a home to 300 species of butterfly out of 800 species found in Kenya. In the past years the forest was faced with the risk of losing it habitat to illegal logging and hunting.

Butterfly farming is the breeding of butterfly pupae purposely for sale in butterfly houses, exhibitors and natural museums. The farming of butterfly in Kenya begun in 1993 as local community initiative to generate income to the communities around forest and promote conservation of the forest resources which were otherwise threaten from exploitation.

The butterfly is famously known as Kipepeo among Mijikenda and Swahili language. The most effective way to trap the butterflies is luring them with bananas and mangoes left in cages in the morning and picked in the evening or trapping them with nets. Butterflies lays eggs on sticks placed in the cages. The butterfly then undergoes complete metamorphosis by laying eggs that hatch to larvae(catapillar), pupa(chrysalis) and finally adult butterfly.[photo courtesy]

They are taken to nurseriesnto fed on different species of planta at the larvae stage to speed the growth which takes maximum of three weeks. The farmers take them to the Kipepeo centers.

Once the pupae reach Kipepeo headquarters in Gede they are sorted according to species and health before sending them on their export to abroad. Kipepeo exports up to one million butterflies annually to Turkey, UK, USA and Germany. Most of the butterflies are used for display in butterfly recreation parks, some used for research in universities and butterfly centres, others are fashioned into home decor and certain cultures release them during ceremonies such as wedding.

Women sorting different species of butterflies pupae

[photo courtesy Keith]

The price of pupae varies according species and ranges from $1 - $2.5. The colourful species such as silver striped charaxes are expensive compared to other species such as African migrant. Most farmers earn more than Ksh.15,000 daily ($139). 

The kipepeo has expanded to include other forest such as Kakamega forest in western Kenya , Taita Hills and Shimba hills in Kwale.

Content created and supplied by: Ed_agritech (via Opera News )

Arabuko Sokoke Kenya Kipepeo Mijikenda Mozambique

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