Bolivia’s Madidi National Park is famous for its immense biodiversity, but few realize that this park holds more butterfly species than any other area on the planet. A multi-year expedition by the Wildlife Conservation Society within the park has already identified an astounding 950 butterfly species as of March 2016. Researchers estimate that at least 1,500 species call the park home.
To put things in perspective, keep in mind that only 725 butterfly species live in the United States and Canada combined. Madidi National Park, which is about the size of New Jersey, has created the perfect environment for these beautiful insects to thrive. The park covers both the Amazon and the tropical Andes, two regions with some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. Add to this the fact that the park has an altitude range of nearly 20,000 feet, the greatest altitude difference of any park on Earth, and you have a nearly endless number of protected microclimates to house so many unique butterfly species.
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Not only are the diverse butterflies beautiful, ranging from electric blue to lime green, but they play a vital role in Madidi's complex ecosystem. Pollinating the park's rich variety of flowering plants is one of their biggest jobs, but they also help decompose dead matter and recycle nutrients. Although both the government and the Bolivian people are working hard to ensure protection of the park itself through education and conservation, a large portion of the protected area is being opened up to oil and gas operations, posing a dire threat to the butterflies and other animals that inhabit this diverse landscape.
The discovery of new butterflies and various other new species is great news, but conservationists everywhere need to work hard to ensure these animals have a safe place to thrive for years to come. If you want to make a difference for butterflies, sign this petition to help save the monarch butterflies of North America.Whizzco