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Do You Feel Butterflies? Visit a Butterfly Farm in Kenya 

Article by Maureen Kasuku
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Posted: March 10, 2021  

Did you know that March 14 is World Butterfly Day? It’s commemorated to promote awareness of the varieties of butterflies and their importance to the ecosystem and our survival. Butterflies provide a wide range of environmental benefits, including pollination and natural pest control and they are a good indicator of the health of the environment and ecosystems.

Butterfly farming is a thing in Kenya and not only is it providing income to smallholder butterfly farmers, it also helps with forest conservation. 

Commercial butterfly breeding or captive butterfly breeding is the practice of breeding butterflies and moths in controlled environments to supply the stock to research facilities, universities, zoos, insectariums, elementary and secondary schools, butterfly exhibits, conservation organizations, nature centers, individuals, and other commercial facilities. 

North of Mombasa is the coastal forest of Arabuko Sokoke. This fascinating forest wilderness is nestled beside the beaches of Watamu, just minutes from the waters of the Indian Ocean.

It is home to about 300 species of butterflies that are not only a tourist attraction, but a source of income for local communities who have found an economic incentive to conserve the forest.

The Kipepeo (Kiswahili for Butterfly) project  is  an innovative community-based conservation right outside the protected Arabuko Sokoke forest. Kipepeo currently markets butterfly and moth pupae and other live insects as well as honey and silk cloth produced by the community. 

This is how it works: The farmers capture the butterflies from the forests and place them in shade net cages with plants that they can feed on. Each farmer owns their own net cages, with some owning as many as ten cages. Small sticks are inserted in the cages for butterflies to lay eggs on (butterflies lay between 1,000 and 2,000 eggs during their life.) After a few days, the eggs hatch and the caterpillars are placed in nurseries to feed on host plants until they develop into pupae. The pupae are then sorted, graded, and classified based on market demand. 

The center buys 600 pupae each week from farmers. The pupae are later wrapped in cotton for protection and exported to six destinations, including locations in Europe and North America. 

Why not visit the butterfly farm on your next trip to the coast. Entry is Ksh 100 for adult residents and Ksh 50 for kids. You can even purchase some butterflies to take home with you. Call +254 719 671161 for enquiries or email kipepeoproject@gmail.com

About the author

Maureen Kasuku

Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life

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