Fiery Birdwing Butterfly (11×14)
The birdwing butterfly family is an object lesson in conservation through sustained commercial use. When scientists discovered that the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing – the largest butterfly in the world – was nearing extinction due to habitat destruction, it began employing natives in the area to re-plant the birdwing’s needed host-plant. Meanwhile, local villagers who hitherto had been forced to clear the endangered birdwing’s habitat to farm, were allowed to collect all unprotected species of insects to sell commercially through a government agency. With the many diverse insect species in that area, there was no shortage of enthusiastic buyers. Consequently, many natives replaced an environmentally devastating career with a benign one while bringing the world’s largest butterfly back from the brink of extinction. As a precaution, all birdwing butterfly species are still protected and require internationally monitored permits, but the species that are offered are not endangered or threatened.