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Number of butterflies in the UK at a record low, survey finds

butterflies

Number of butterflies in the UK at a record low, survey finds

The UK has recorded its lowest ever number of butterflies in an annual survey of the insects, prompting conservationists to warn that nature is in crisis.

Butterfly Conservation, which counted butterflies and moths between 16 July and 8 August, said the results, released on Thursday, marked the lowest numbers since the Big Butterfly Count started 12 years ago and called for urgent action to be taken.

It is the latest warning sign for butterflies – which, as well as forming a vital part of the food chain, are considered significant indicators of the health of the environment – after decades of decline. Since 1976, 76% of butterflies have declined either in abundance or distribution.

Julie Williams, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The facts are clear. Nature is in crisis and we need urgent action, not just to prevent further species losses but to rebuild biodiversity.”

Of the 150,000 counts registered in this year’s snapshot, the most submitted to date, volunteers counted an average of nine butterflies or moths each count, down from an average of 11 last year and 16 in 2019.

Overall, there were 1,238,405 butterflies and moths counted – a 14% reduction on last year. The survey is carried out by volunteers who count the number and type of butterflies or moths they see in 15 minutes.

Among the species with significantly reduced counts were the small tortoiseshell, which dropped 32% and is in long-term decline in the UK, and the peacock butterfly, which was 63% down on last year and had its lowest count since 2012. Others that saw marked drops on last year were the comma (-32%), speckled wood (-41%) and common blue (-59%).

There were higher numbers of ringlets and marbled whites in this year’s count, which rose by 81% and 213% year-on-year respectively. But, the charity warned, the increases could simply reflect lower counts last year.

Zoë Randle, a senior surveys officer at Butterfly Conservation, said an extremely wet May, which brought the UK’s fourth-highest amount of rainfall on record for the month, was a significant factor for butterfly numbers, hindering their breeding and feeding.

“Butterflies don’t like the rain at all, they’re coldblooded insects. Effectively they’re solar-powered,” she said.

This was especially bad for species that produce two broods a year, most of which had their worst year in the history of the survey. “That first brood would have been really hammered by that wet May. So breeding success would have been limited, which led to fewer offspring being available to create the second generation,” said Randle, adding that it would have a knock-on effect on next year’s count.

And with extreme weather events expected to increase as a result of climate breakdown, it is feared the long-term impact on butterflies and moths could be devastating.

Butterfly Conservation has pledged to halve the number of threatened species in the UK, double its impact on landscape restoration and encourage people to create new wild nature spaces.

If action was not taken to protect them, Randle said, it would lead to a “continued degradation of the environment and the natural world”.

In addition to unusual weather patterns, Brian Eversham, an entomologist and the chief executive of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, said insects were facing numerous pressures including habitat loss, polluted waterways and dangerous pesticide use.

But, he added: “While these findings are unsettling, we shouldn’t underestimate nature’s ability to recover if given a chance. We can all help by creating more habitats for wildlife.”

Top 10 species counted in the UK in the Big Butterfly Count 2021
1. Small White (252,151 counted; -5% on 2020)

2. Large White (229,218; -16%)

3. Meadow Brown (197,060; +33%)

4. Gatekeeper (133,726; -30%)

5. Red Admiral (75,394; -10%)

6. Ringlet (63,311; +81%)

7. Peacock (61,668; -63%)

8. Small Tortoiseshell (38,543; -32%)

9. Marbled White (28,704; +213%)

10. Green-veined White (27,784; -9%)

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Environment

F.G’s Dangote Flood Committee Shares N1.5b Relief Materials To Flood Victims

The Dangote-led Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (PCFRR), known as Dangote Flood Committee has distributed N1.5 billion relief materials to victims of flooding nationwide.

The PCFRR, which was established by the Federal Government following the 2012 flooding, is co-chaired by Africa’s foremost industrialist Aliko Dangote and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba.

The flagging off ceremony for the relief materials distribution for this year started in Borno State and was conducted by the State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum Tuesday in Maiduguri, Borno State capital. The Governor thanked the Dangote Flood Committee and promised that he will ensure that the items get to the victims.

UNICEF revealed that the 2022 flood killed 600 people, displaced 1.3 million and destroyed more than 82,000 homes in Nigeria, therefore making it the worst in decades.

The representative of the committee, Alhaji Umar Musa Gulani, assured at the flagging off for the Northeast zone that the exercise would also be conducted in the other five geopolitical zones of the country.

Gulani said the items from the committee have been officially handed over to the Borno State Government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). He said the exercise would be conducted across the six geo-political zones, beginning from the northeastern State of Borno.

The breakdown of items donated includes 86 bags of rice, 34 bags of beans, 34 bags of maize, 34 bags of millet, 34 bags of Guinea Corn, 34 bags of Garri, 86 cartons of noodles, 86 cartons of spaghetti, 86 cartons of macaroni and 86 bags of sugar, and 857 bags of cement, among several food and non-food items.

Gulani said over N10 billion has been expended by the committee to mitigate the effect of flooding since inception in 2012, adding that no fewer than 84 Hostels have been built for flood victims in 24 states of Nigeria. According to him: “This private sector led project is highly commendable and it has been sustained in the past ten years. It is a selfless service from the private sector and Nigerians should appreciate their selfless service to humanity”.

Director General of NEMA Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed described the Committee’s intervention as a milestone for Nigeria in general, and flood victims in particular. “Responding to the humanitarian outcomes of this nature requires concerted effort,” the DG said, and added that the donation by the Dangote Flood Committee would eventually be made available to flood victims across the affected states in Nigeria.

Speaking on behalf of the victims, Khalifa El-Miskin said the victims were extremely appreciative of the gesture.

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Environment

600 Persons Killed, 1.3m Displaced By Floods – UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund has said at least that 600 persons died and 1.3 million others rendered homeless by floods.

This was disclosed by the Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Juliet Chiluwe, on Saturday, during an official handover of supplies for Anambra State Flood Response from UNICEF to Anambra State Government

Ms Chiluwe said the figure was obtained according to government data available it received.

During the visit by the UNICEF, the first set of supplies of 100 drums of chlorine for disinfection of water sources, 40 cartons of Aquatabs for household water treatment and 320 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic food were handed over to the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who was represented by his deputy, Onyekachukwu Ibezim.

The UNICEF official said, “We acknowledged that since September 2022, the worst floods in a decade affected 2.8 million people, of which an estimated 60 per cent are children, across 34 of the 36 states in Nigeria. Of those affected, 1.3 million people have been displaced, and over 600 people have died in relation to flooding according to government data.

“Continuous heavy rains have collapsed hundreds of public health facilities, water systems and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea, and malaria.

“To contribute to the effort of government and other development partners, UNICEF, with funding the Central Emergency Response Fund, has initiated a multisectoral response comprising Health, Child Protection and WASH sectors, to mitigate the impact of the floods support the early recovery-phase of the affected population in Anambra State.“

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Environment

Dantata, Rabiu, Others Gift Jigawa Flood Victims N1b

Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, Alhaji Aminu Dantata, and Abdulsamad Rabiu, the founder of BUA group, on Saturday raised over N1 billion for Jigawa flood victims.

The donations were made in Dutse at the fund raising in support of the 2022 flood victims in the state.

Dantata and Rabiu each donated N200 million, Jigawa State Government N250 million, Gov. Muhammad Badaru, donated N25 million on behalf of himself, family and his company, Talamis Group.

However, Dantata, who was represented by Alhaji Salisu Sambajo, expressed concern over the conditions in which the flood victims found themselves after the disaster.

The philanthropist prayed for those who died during the disaster and sympathised with those who lost their property and crops in the floods.

Similarly, Badaru also expressed appreciation to the teeming donors for their kind gesture and urged the fund raising committee to be equitable and just in the distribution of the palliatives and cash.

The committee Chairman, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, (Wazirin Dutse) and former Minister of Power, thanked individuals and group of companies for supporting the victims.

Other donors included the members of the state and National Assembly as well as Council Chairmen.

Zenith Bank, Jaiz Bank, FCMB, Sterling Bank, GTBANK and Unity Bank were among the financial institutions who made donations.

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