Limpopo – A South African butterfly thought to have become extinct 30 years ago, was rediscovered on Saturday.
Mark Williams, founder of the Lepidopterist Society of Africa, stumbled across the Waterberg Copper (known as the Erikssonia edgei) while hiking in the Bateleur Nature Reserve, 25km north of Bela-Bela.
The butterfly was initially discovered on December 21, 1980 by Dave Edge. He discovered a colony on a farm in the Waterberg, west of Modimolle (Nylstroom). Some five years later the butterfly had disappeared from the locality primarily because of changes in the micro-habitat.
The Bateleur locality vegetation, unlike the original locality, is grassland and the butterfly’s area of occupation is about five hectares which supports two colonies of Erikssonia edgei.
“The butterfly is on the wing very late this season flying now whereas the previously confirmed flight period was January early February. However, it is possible that nobody has looked for it in March before," said Jeremy Dobson, chairman of the Highveld Butterfly and Moth Club.
"Alternately, it has apparently been a very dry season in the Waterberg, which may have delayed its emergence. Owen Garvie and I will be working on a conservation plan for this new locality to ensure that it does not go the way of the original at the Waterberg."