Rhoko forest revealed to hold the highest butterfly diversity in Africa!

The Robust Themis Forester (Euphaedra permixtum)

Careful surveying of the butterflies in Rhoko forest over a period of five years has demonstrated the highest species diversity on the African continent for a single location. More than 550 butterfly species have so far been identified within walking distance of our field station. But just as remarkable is the fact that the rate of detection has barely slowed down in the past two years. The statistics from such an extensive amount of work allows us to predict with a high degree of accuracy that there are in excess of 800 species present.

In West Africa the highest number for a single area is 650 is the Atewa Range in Ghana and, in general, good quality rainforests in Africa should contain around 600 species. Almost 800 species were recorded in one location in Cameroon. The extraordinarily high diversity of butterfly species shared by that location, Rhoko, and the contiguous forest in between is not a matter of chance. As the centre of a forest refuge during multiple periods of climate change over the past 15 million years, the area has both protected speciation and captured species from farther afield during periods of forest continuity. Cross River’s forests also harbour the highest diversity of primate species in Africa.

32 butterfly species have been confirmed in Rhoko that have not been seen before in the larger region. Two of these are new to science, and one of them will be published this year bearing the name of Rhoko. Just as soon as that happens we will show you a picture here!

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