The Monkey & The Butterfly

The Monkey & The Butterfly

Monkey & ButterlyThe 2009 “Year of the Gorilla” ended very beautifully and very sad. The butterflies will just have to wait.

It was a sad coincidence from the start that the YOG planned so long in advance occurred as the world tailspinned into economic collapse. The whole point of these sponsored years is to focus attention and funds into what has been essentially world organized successes.

The success of the mountain gorilla project is legendary. Its foundation rests not on celebrities like the poorly trained and personally dysfunctional Dian Fossey. (Indeed, I strongly believe after her initial success in publicizing the plight of gorillas, she was more responsible for inhibiting development of the project than any other individual.)

Rather, the remarkable success was with the people – kids at the time – who really sacrificed part of their young professional lives to the cause: they were willing to work in the super-nova umbra of Fosey under enormous difficulties.

George Shaller did the science. Bill Weber and Amy Vedder followed him and created this hall-of-fame project that merged gorilla conservation with local development including tourism. And this triad of science and society had no precedent.

It was an amazing beginning, and you can buy their dramatic story from Amazon by clicking here.

The next tier was the grunt field workers cum- or to become scientists and legions of social workers and volunteers and probably primary among them was Craig Sholley. Click here to visit the conservation organization Craig now works for.

So as the heydays of the last decade whirled by with more good news than bad on the conservation front, it made sense to top off the century with the Year of the Gorilla.

Not their fault, Goldman Sachs. So while the various organizations involved have yet to tally the proceeds, the talk on the street is not good. Maybe less than half what was hoped to have been raised was actually realized.

But there are good stories, nonetheless. Researchers, students and volunteers supported by the YOG in Bwindi national park have blazed new trails and new science, and along the way, have even discovered a few new … butterflies.
mass of butterflies
This picture was taken by the volunteer named Douglas Sheil last week in the Bwindi forest. In this montage of several photos are two new species of butterflies.

“We don’t know a huge amount about Bwindi’s butterfly fauna though it appears to be richer than other forests in Uganda,” be blogged.

He then went on to list a few species still lacking confirmation and English names, and basically, took the pictures and left the science.

For others, when funds become available.