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NZ butterfly extinction on the cards?

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Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Te Whanganui a Tara – There is a mystery to be solved with Aotearoa’s copper butterfly species and The Butterfly Discovery Project has been established to find and fund a PhD student to solve it.

NZ Butterflies says the mystery goes back to Cook’s Endeavour voyage when historical mistakes were made and specimens misplaced.

It appears the butterflies that had been collected from New Zealand were sold to a specimen trader on arrival back in London.

Only a painting by William Jones in 1775 known as an iconotype was used to identify the butterfly. No original specimen has ever been located.

The end result is that most of the Kiwi copper butterflies have been grouped together as just common coppers when there may be many more.

According to discovery project manager Angela Moon-Jones says to save a species from extinction, such as the copper butterflies, they need to be named using scientific methods such as DNA.

“Sadly, the scientific funding model in New Zealand does not support this type of work so we must raise money through crowd funding, just to be able to identify and name our important fauna.

“Only then can they be included in national conservation programmes with the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai.

The project team includes New Zealand’s bug man Ruud Kleinpaste and leading scientists.

Some of the copper butterlies are extinct already, or on the edge of extinction.

The Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust (MBNZT) says it will match all donations, to a level of $5000.