By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
To learn the great varieties of plants and wildlife of Nepal, a visit to this museum is essential. The museum is the house of a large collection of butterflies found in Nepal. The museum was established by an American Peace Corps volunteer in 1965 with the aim of drawing the students’ and the visitors’ interest to the diverse variety of Nepal’s flora and fauna, and making them aware of Nepal’s natural history and its importance. This museum brings awareness among the visitors…this will make conservation work more successful.
The museum is located within the compound of Prithvi Narayan Campus, Pokhara. It has a rare collection of nearly 90 percent of the 640 species of butterflies found in Nepal. The museum has a large collection of wildlife, plants, birds, and insects of Nepal. Such a large collection of wildlife and cultural heritages has made this museum first of its kind in Nepal.
Late Dorothy Mierow and Colin Smith played key roles in bringing the museum up to this stage of development. Mierow, Peace Corps volunteer, helped found the museum, and it is due to her efforts that Pokhara has such an excellent museum. Her long stay in Pokhara helped this museum to make steady progress. She also authored a bestselling book “Thirty Years in Pokhara”.
The book is much popular among Nepalese and foreign tourists. After the establishment of the museum, Mierow took interest in promoting wildlife, insects, plants, birds and butterflies found in Nepal. Colin Smith worked in Nepal for several years and also collected and preserved a large variety of butterflies for the museum.
The large collection of butterflies has great scientific importance and it has attracted so much attention that the museum is nicknamed “the Butterfly Museum” and its credit goes to one and only Colin Smith.
Colin Smith, a British Entomologist, spent over three decades to collect and preserved varieties of butterflies found in different regions of Nepal. Nepal is the home of about 640 species of butterflies. Colin Smith has been successful to collect most of the butterflies and preserved in the museums in Pokhara, Kathmandu and England.
Mountain butterflies of Parnassus group have been preserved in a special case. Various species of moths and dragonflies have been well organized and displayed magnificently. This collection is believed to be the largest one in Nepal. The museum has an interesting collection of various species of birds, small mammals, moths, beetles, and tropical insects. Dr Bob Fleming did donate 56 bird feathers for the students of ornithology. About 70 plants and 150 birds are pictured on plywood and open on walls, charts, and plywood. Some of the rare small size mammals have been preserved in glass cases.
ACAP has added a new room where displayed how the tectonic block moves continents and cause Mountains rising. The formation of Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic rocks has been beautifully explained through charts and paintings. Beside this room, there is a modest collection of different rocks and fossils.
The geology department of Colorado College had donated a set of hardness indicator minerals, specimens of iron, copper, lead and other metals. Some more rocks and mineral specimens from Nepal have also been added to the collection.
Diverse geographical terrain and environments have attracted large numbers of butterfly species found in Nepal. The biggest and smallest species found in Nepal are the Birdwing and the Least Grass John respectively. However, due to the rapid depletion of forests, the natural habitats of butterflies are in grave danger. As a result, some species of butterflies like Banded Afol, Sesabita, Medo Byu, and Cremeta Levani are almost on the verge of extinction.
The museum has 5 sections which are dedicated to mammals, rocks, birds, butterflies, dummy homes of different communities, costumes, and the Annapurna area. The museum was adopted by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in 1986. Since then the entire museum is being upgraded. The museum attracts foreign visitors and the scholars interested in the ACAP area and the wildlife.
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) was established in 1986 with the concept of eco-tourism. Besides being rich in culture, flora and fauna this region is a unique trekking area and ACAP’s activities show a perfect example of how the income from tourism and good management can be used for local Development and environmental conservation of an area.
Today ACAP has become the largest conservation area in Nepal covering the area of 7629 square meters. This pioneering project has been benefit of the local people by creating job opportunities for them and raising their standard of living. Community schools, health posts, drinking water facilities and training are some of the other advantages that have resulted from the ACAP eco-tourism project.
It has also played a vital role in preserving and promoting the local people’s cultural heritage, as tourists are made aware of the customs and way of life in this region by mingling with the people. Everything in this area has flourished, the mountains are no longer bare, they are now covered by dense forest, and the formerly endangered species of animals and birds are now increasing.
Across ACAP area has 55 VDC’s in the 5 districts of Myagdi, Kaski, Lamjung, Manang and Mustang with a total population of about 100,000. It is the largest protected area in Nepal containing 1226 species of plants (including 38 orchids and 9 rhododendrons. Rhododendrons are the national flower of Nepal and are called Lalit Gurans), 101 mammals, 474 birds, 39 reptiles and 22 amphibians.
The major ethnic groups living here are Gurung, Magar, Bhotia, Thakali and Manangi. The highest and lowest evaluation of the ACAP area is respectively 8091 metres (Annapurna 1) and 790 metres (Khudi). Major rivers flowing here are Marshyangdi, Kali Gandaki,Seti, Madi, Modi, Mardi.This area is famous across the world for its popular destinations such as Ghandruk, Ghorepani, Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Jomsom, Muktinath, Manang, Ghalegaun, Ghalekharka – Siklis eco-trek, Tilicho Lake, Nar and Phu, and upper Mustang. Tilicho is the biggest lake in Nepal which is located at the highest altitude of 5000 metres.
The museum had a face-lift in 1988 when ACAP took the museum under its care. Under the initiative of ACAP, a large number of endangered wild species have been identified and monitored. Some of the rarest birds are kept in the glass cases, which are found in and around the Annapurna range. The main attraction of the museum is a stuffed full-grown national bird Danfe.
The museum also highlights the need to establish an ecological equilibrium among the wildlife. The museum gives a message to conserve wildlife and their habitats to protect several species from complete disappearance.
The contribution of this museum to preserve and promote wildlife is highly appreciable. The museum has spread general awareness among the people by displaying rich stock of wildlife collections. The museum opens from 9am to 5pm in summer and from 9am to 4pm in winter. No entrance fee is charged, everyone is welcomed to this museum.
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