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The Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre: five years of endeavouring to support conservation and poverty alleviation

  • Independent researcher
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
Butter y farming in Siem Reap
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2013 (1) 79
Short Communication
The Banteay Srey Butter y Centre: ve years of endeavouring to
support conservation and poverty alleviation
Immenweide 83, D-22523 Hamburg, Germany.
Paper submitted 22 March 2013, revised manuscript accepted 24 May 2013.
Sustainable bu er y farms have been established in
several tropical developing countries with the aims
of supporting local rural livelihoods and conserving
forests with high biodiversity. For example, Kenya
(Gordon et al., 2011), Tanzania (Morgan-Brown et al.,
2010; van der Heyden, 2011) and Guyana (Sambhu &
van der Heyden, 2010).
In 2008, Ben Hayes, originally from the United
Kingdom, started the Banteay Srey Bu er y Centre
(BBC) near the Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem
Reap Province. It was based on the Zanzibar Bu er y
Centre, a similar project he started in Tanzania in 2006
(van der Heyden, 2011). Both projects operate within
or near protected areas where there is a lot of pressure
on natural resources from local communities. Ben
Hayes and two Cambodians, Nhoek Sakhaun and
Thoung Chantha, are the directors of the BBC. The
centre is managed by another Cambodian, Om Srey
The BBC is in Sanday Village, near the Banteay
Srey Temple and the Cambodia Landmine Museum.
It o ers a live bu er y exhibition to residents and
tourists, which is the largest of its kind in Southeast
Asia. Hundreds of free- ying bu er ies—all of them
native species of Cambodia—can be observed in a
ne ed tropical enclosure, approximately 30 m x 40 m.
The centre is visited by approximately 10,000 foreign
and 3,000 Cambodian visitors every year. They are
informed about the di erent species on display, the
bu er y life cycle and their ecology by trained local
sta members. Through these talks, the BBC aims to
give visitors an increased knowledge of local Cambo-
CITATION: van der Heyden, T. (2013) The Banteay Srey Bu er y Centre: ve years of endeavouring to support conservation
and poverty alleviation. Cambodian Journal of Natural History, 2013, 7–9.
dian biodiversity and hence stimulate interest in
conservation and protection issues.
The BBC also focuses on enabling local rural
communities to gain a livelihood by rearing bu er y
species and selling pupae to the BBC. Farmers in
Sanday Village and remote communities currently
farm 35 species of bu er ies and moths from various
families: Atrophaneura aristolochiae, A acus atlas (Fig.
1), Catopsilia pomona, C. scylla, Cethosia cyane, Charaxes
solon, Danaus genutia, Delias pasithoe, Dysphania
sagana, Elymnias hypermnestra, E. nesaea, Euploea core,
E. mulciber, Euthalia aconthea, E. lubentina, Graphium
agamemnon (Fig. 2), G. antiphates, G. doson, G. sarpedon,
Hebomoia glaucippe, Hypolimnas bolina, Junonia almana,
Lebadea martha, Lexias dirtea, Melanitis leda, Papilio
clytia, P. demoleus (Fig. 3), P. demolion, P. helenus, P.
memnon, P. polytes, Parantica aglea, Parthenos sylvia,
Polyura athamas and Tirumala septentrionis. All of these
species are farmed every year, but the number of
specimens reared and displayed may vary depending
on the season.
In small ne ed enclosures in the farmers’
backyards (Fig. 4), female bu er ies deposit their
eggs on the speci c food plants of the respective
species. The eggs are harvested by the farmers and the
hatched larvae are transferred to their food plants in
a “nursery”. After pupation, the pupae are sold to the
BBC and displayed in the centre (Fig. 5), where the
bu er ies emerge. The duration of the breeding cycle
varies depending on the species. Most species take
several weeks to complete the cycle from egg to adult
bu er y.
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
T. van der Heyden
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2013 (1) 79
Fig. 1 A acus atlas (Saturniidae) (© T. van der Heyden). Fig. 2 Graphium agamemnon (Papilionidae) (© T. van der
Fig. 3 Papilio demoleus (Papilionidae) (© T. van der
Fig. 4 Breeding cage owned by a farmer with the Banteay
Srey Bu er y Centre (© B. Hayes).
Fig. 5 Pupae of Papilio memnon (Papilionidae) at the
Banteay Srey Bu er y Centre (© B. Hayes).
Because only a few bu er ies are caught from
the wild to start the farming process, these collec-
tions are not thought to harm the wild populations. A
number of the pupae reared by the farmers are used
for breeding purposes, thus avoiding unnecessary
consecutive collections from the wild. To prevent rare
or threatened species being caught, the BBC does not
buy any rare species and all farmers have been taught
to farm only common, non-threatened species.
The BBC buys pupae only from local farmers that
are members of the project. By rearing and selling
bu er ies from home, the farmers are able to increase
and diversify their income, which helps to alleviate
poverty. The additional monthly income is very
variable, depending on how many pupae the farmers
produce and of which species, but some farmers have
earned US$ 100 per month from this part time work.
This is twice the local average monthly income.
In addition, the farmers are able to gain the knowl-
edge that an intact natural environment is vital for
their business, which could motivate them to conserve
their natural surroundings instead of destroying them
for agriculture or other purposes. Forest clearance and
other forms of habitat destruction could potentially be
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
Butter y farming in Siem Reap
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2013 (1) 79
reduced, having a positive impact on wild species,
both plants and animals.
As of March 2013, about 30 male and female
farmers work with the BBC. Their business of rearing
and selling bu er ies is an example of the sustain-
able use of natural resources. Revenue generated
from admission fees to the BBC is used to support
the farmers and their families with a supplementary
income as well. Additional people from local commu-
nities are employed by the BBC to manage the centre,
train and support the bu er y farmers, and guide
visitors. Part of the revenue from tourist admissions
is also used to support conservation projects, for
example, biodiversity surveys. The BBC is a member
of ConCERT (Connecting Communities, Environ-
ment & Responsible Tourism) based in Siem Reap, a
network of local partners involved in conservation.
Currently, there are no quantitative or qualitative
data to evaluate the impact of the BBC on the conser-
vation of natural resources. I therefore recommend
conducting a survey to investigate these aspects and
to determine if and how a itudes and behaviours
towards natural resources have changed within the
local communities. Generally, such a survey or evalu-
ation should be done for all bu er y farming projects
of this kind throughout the world to understand their
environmental impacts. Morgan-Brown et al. (2010)
examined a commercial bu er y farming project in
Tanzania and found bu er y farmers were signi -
cantly more active in forest conservation than other
community members because they “perceive a link
between earnings from bu er y farming and forest
conservation”. It is possible that similarly positive
results will be found in other sustainable bu er y
farming projects, including the BBC.
A future aim of the BBC is to farm more species
of Saturniidae, in addition to A acus atlas (Fig. 1).
Research is currently being carried out to increase
the number of species farmed and the BBC is also
planning to increase the number of farmers involved.
To enlarge this business, it will be necessary to export
pupae, for example, to bu er y exhibitions in Europe
or North America. The BBC is awaiting an export
license to do this. Finally, another challenge facing
the centre is the production of pupae all year round.
Because many of the bu er y farmers are engaged
in rice cultivation, li le or even no bu er y farming
takes place during the harvest period.
I agree with Gordon et al. (2011) and Morgan-
Brown et al. (2010) that initiatives like the BBC are
appropriate to support rural communities in tropical
developing countries to improve their living condi-
tions without harming nature.
I would like to thank Ben Hayes from the Banteay
Srey Bu er y Centre who provided me with informa-
tion about the project and two of the photographs.
Gordon, I., Fungomeli, M. & Githitho, A. (2011) Bu er y
farming as an NTFP: 19 years of Kipepeo: 1993-2012. Paper
presented to the Kenya Trees and Forests Conference, 27-29
February 2011, Brackenhurst, Kenya. H p://www.outremer. [accessed 24 May
Morgan-Brown, T., Jacobson, S.K., Wald, K. & Child, B.
(2010) Quantitative assessment of a Tanzanian integrated
conservation and development project involving bu er y
farming. Conservation Biology, 24, 563–572.
Sambhu, H. & van der Heyden, T. (2010) Sustainable
bu er y farming in tropical developing countries as an
opportunity for man and nature—the “Kawê Amazonica
Bu er y Farm” project in Guyana as an example (Insecta:
Lepidoptera). Sociedad Hispano-Luso-Americana de Lepidop-
terología (SHILAP) Revista de lepidopterología, 38, 451–456.
van der Heyden, T. (2011) Local and e ective: two projects
of bu er y farming in Cambodia and Tanzania (Insecta:
Lepidoptera). Sociedad Hispano-Luso-Americana de Lepidop-
terología (SHILAP) Revista de lepidopterología, 39, 267–270.
About the Author
TORSTEN VAN DER HEYDEN—apart from being
a teacher of Biology and Geography—is a German
independent researcher specialising in Lepidoptera
and Heteroptera. He has published papers on bu er-
ies, moths and true bugs, focussing on their biology,
ecology and distribution, as well as papers on several
bu er y centres and farms and their impact on
conservation and protection. The author is a member
of various scienti c associations and societies, e.g. a
fellow of the Linnean Society of London and the Royal
Entomological Society, and a member of the Spanish
Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural. He is a
member of the editorial boards of Atalanta—Zeitschrift
der Deutschen Forschungszentrale für Schme erling-
swanderungen, BV news Publicaciones Cientí cas and
Lepcey—The Journal of Tropical Asian Entomology.
With the growing popularity of heritage tourism throughout the world in recent years, international agencies have guided their member states to develop different forms of tourism, including cultural tourism, sustainable tourism, and local participation in heritage conservation and tourism development. This paper first reviews the concepts of cultural tourism, heritage, sustainable development, and sustainable tourism, upon which international guidance has been based and practiced. It then explores the interpretations and applications of international guidance by the Cambodian national authorities in the Angkor World Heritage site, and compares these to the responses and applications by local NGOs and social enterprises. Angkor World Heritage site demonstrates a highly controversial national interpretation and application of international guidance, which is complemented, but only somewhat, by the initiatives of local NGOs and social entrepreneurs.
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The “Kawê Amazonica Butterfly Farm” project in Guyana, South America is described with its different phases and is presented as a model for sustainable butterfly farming.
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The projects “Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre” in Cambodia (Asia) and “Zanzibar Butterfly Centre” in Tanzania (Africa) are presented as models of sustainable butterfly farming to support local communities.
Butt erfl y farming as an NTFP: 19 years of Kipepeo: 1993-2012. Paper presented to the Kenya Trees and Forests Conference
  • I Gordon
  • M Fungomeli
  • A Githitho
Gordon, I., Fungomeli, M. & Githitho, A. (2011) Butt erfl y farming as an NTFP: 19 years of Kipepeo: 1993-2012. Paper presented to the Kenya Trees and Forests Conference, 27-29