USP’s Pro-Chancellor Research and Graduate Affairs Dr Ana Taufe'ulungaki with Sunil Kumar (Left) and Hilda Waqa-Sakiti at the launch of their book 'Butterflies of the Fiji Islands.
The South Pacific is considered to be one of the most important areas in the world for biodiversity because of the many unique species found here, and by developing our scientific knowledge we shall be able to act as custodians of these species for future generations, says USP’s Pro-Chancellor Research and Graduate Affairs Dr Ana Taufe'ulungaki.
Dr Ana made the comments at the launch of a book titled ‘Butterflies of the Fiji Islands’’ authored by two University of the South Pacific scientists at the Fiji Museum in Suva, Fiji, recently.
She added that Fiji and the whole of the South Pacific had many unique ‘endemic’ species which are found nowhere else in the world. One such species, the Fiji swallowtail butterfly’ is included in the book.
The book by Sunil Prasad and Hilda Waqa-Sakiti will be used to raise awareness in the Fiji Islands about the various forms of butterflies found in the country.
According to Mr Prasad who has done a Masters in Entomology, while doing research for the book, both he and Ms Waqa-Sakiti found that there was hardly any awareness about these beautiful creatures.
“For many they are just insects so this book serves to work as a guide to explain further about these butterflies and why they are so important to us,’’ said Mr Prasad.
“It is also written in a language that will be easy for all to read - both adults and children.’’
In launching the book, Dr Ana also thanked the British Government funded Darwin Initiative for supporting the project ‘Focus on Fiji: insect inventories for conservation’, which made the production of the book possible.
The Darwin Initiative is a small grants program that aims to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources around the world. The program assists countries with the conservation of biological diversity and draws on British expertise in the field of biodiversity.
Dr Ana pointed out that insects contributed over three-quarters of all species on the planet and as such contributed immensely to the biodiversity of the world in which we live.
“Butterflies are one of nature’s most beautiful creatures and this book will provide those living in Fiji with a reference guide to those lovely insects,’’ said Dr Ana.
“Butterflies are not only beautiful creatures but they are also important ecologically, providing pollination services which maintain the ecosystems which are so vital to the well being of all of us. Butterflies have been described as part of the charismatic mega fauna – organisms that can be identified and appreciated not just by specialist zoologists but by naturalists of any background. They can be used as representative tokens of more hidden and difficult to study fauna in a vast range of potential investigations such as biogeography, behaviour, evolution, land use studies and conservation projects.’’
She also expressed delight at the involvement of the two young authors from USP’s Faculty of Science and Technology.
“I am delighted to see that this book has been authored by Sunil and Hilda. The future of conservation of the South Pacific’s unique biodiversity will be led by this generation of young scientists’’.
Images for the book were provided Gaden Robinson, Dave Britton and Max Beaston through the Fiji Museum.
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