Butterfly conservation in Southern Africa
Edge, David A.
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The origins and development of butterfly conservation in southern Africa are explored and the role of the Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa (LSA) in the promotion of butterfly conservation and research is described. LSA members have produced several Red Lists for South African butterflies. The Southern African Butterfly Conservation Assessment project, a joint venture between LSA, the Animal Demography Unit (ADU—University of Cape Town) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute was launched in 2007. This has resulted in a comprehensive and accurate distributional database and rigorous conservation assessments using the IUCN (2010) Red Listing categories and criteria for the 794 butterfly taxa assessed. LSA’s Custodians of Rare and Endangered Lepidoptera programme aims to conserve all the threatened species, prioritising the Critically Endangered category. Moving beyond species-based conservation, habitat and landscape conservation are now key conservation strategies which focus on vegetation types and butterfly biodiversity hotspots. LSA (in partnership with ADU) has also recently launched the LepiMAP project, an online photographic geo-referenced database which will develop a butterfly and moth atlas for the whole of Africa, as part of a continent-wide conservation effort. Another important project which the LSA recently launched is the Caterpillar Rearing Group, for documenting the life histories of all Lepidoptera in the Afrotropical region