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    Colorful celebration of Turkey’s butterflies

    Anatolian Agency
    02.04.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    İZMİR - With their fascinating colors and tragically short lives, butterflies are always an attraction, but mean more to some. A group of obervers in Turkey have united and collected information on these creatures to release an almanac revealing the country’s richness in butterflies.

    Volunteer observers have finally documented a butterfly list to reflect the richness of butterfly species living in Turkey.

    Fifteen butterfly observers united as the Kelebek-Turk (Butterfly-Turk) Observers Group in order to reveal the richness in butterfly species and published an almanac. Photos of 253 species out of a total 400 were included in this study, which is available at www.kelebek.com.

    Group member Vildan Bozacı told an Anatolian news agency reporter that the concept of butterfly observation is relatively new in Turkey despite the country being known for its natural beauties.

    Some people who enjoy nature have started to take photos of butterflies, increasing their curiosity in them. In the last few years, butterfly observation has turned into a popular hobby. According to Bozacı, this is a quite common pasttime in Europe and the United States especially.

    "First, nature lovers have started to take photos of butterflies and became fascinated by them. Somehow they have managed to form a group and seek support. In fact, there were other groups before Kelebek-Turk. For instance, a group in İzmir called İzmir Nature Photographers were also taking butterfly photos. Kelebek-Turk in essence consists of photographers and was formed when people in the field had an urge to publish these photos on the Web.

    "As a result, they got together as butterfly observers and organized important field trips. And we wanted to share these results in an almanac. We aim to have regular studies, reveal butterfly diversity in Turkey and make contributions to nature conservation programs," said Bozacı.

    Turkey’s butterflies await observers

    Bozacı said butterfly observation should spread in Turkey. "A total of 400, 253 species were documented in "Kelebek-Turk 2008 Almanac," she said. "This year we also conducted another study titled ’Butterflies of İzmir.’ Our joint works with Professor Ahmet Koçak and Dr. Muhabbet Kemal Koçak were published as an academic paper in which we documented 85 butterfly species, 13 of which were classified for the first time. Therefore, the number of butterfly species known in İzmir has risen to 122. Still, the total number we have seen remains below 109. Questions such as ’is this because the others are on the verge of distinction’ and ’is it because we have failed to spot them’ await answers. And this is the case for all of Turkey. Although 60 species are known in Britain today, there are about 10,000 butterfly observers. 500 butterfly species are in Europe and Turkey alone has 400 of them. On the other hand, the number of butterfly observers is in the teens.

    So, I wish we could be more widespread. I wish we had butterfly observers in every city to help discover different types of butterflies," she said. For butterfly observation, a camera and binoculars are enough, said Bozacı, inviting people who love the outdoors and spending time in nature. Volunteers can contact Kelebek-Turk through the group’s Web site. The book, "A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Turkey," published by the Nature Association, is an asset to butterfly observers.

    Over 300 photos

    Butterfly specialist Dr. Ahmet Baytaş and environmentalist Dr. Evrim Karaçetin are the co-authors of the book, which includes over 300 butterfly photos. Detailed information on almost all types of butterflies, including common butterflies, 22 of which live in Turkey, is included in guide. Nature Association President Güven Eken said "A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Turkey" invites people into the pure and free world of butterflies.

    Eken said that the field guide proves such a world still exists. "The butterflies of Turkey are getting together in this book in order to wake us up," said Eken.

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