oa Koedoe : African Protected Area Conservation and Science - Monitoring of the eggs of the Karkloof blue butterfly, , for its conservation management : original research



The Endangered (Butler 1898) (Karkloof blue butterfly) is endemic to the Endangered Moist Midlands Grassland in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and is extant at four sites. The results from the monitoring of the eggs laid by in a grassland area that is frequently burnt by poor rural people to ensure that palatable grass is available to their livestock, suggested the implementation of management interventions (fencing and firebreak burning) to prevent the local extinction of the butterfly. The number of eggs at the monitoring site declined dramatically between 2002 and 2003 and fluctuated after the management interventions were initiated properly in 2008, but had nearly reached the target number of 250 by 2013. An index count method for the monitoring of eggs at the other three known colonies, where plant invasion rather than uncontrolled burning is a major threat, was developed and shown to be efficient with regard to time relative to the number of eggs sampled. The host ant (F. Smith 1858) (Natal sugar ant) was found to be present in all the host-plant patches at one colony site, indicating that all host-plant patches are likely to be breeding areas for the butterfly. Invasive plant control at and appropriate burning of the habitat of should assist in ensuring the survival of these colonies.

Adaptive monitoring and management of threatened endemic invertebrates and their habitats may be crucial for their continued survival. The development of efficient methods for the monitoring of such species is required where resources are limited, as threats to the species may cause sudden and irreversible declines in population size.


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