Voucher specimens

P. Stadel Nielsen fdki at post2.tele.dk
Tue Sep 23 15:25:08 EDT 1997

apktorry at csm.ex.ac.uk (A.P.K.Torry) wrote:

>What's the point in stopping people collecting Brazilian butterflies and
>moths while at the same time destroying huge tracts of rain-forest for the
>sake of feeding an over-expanded population.

Apparently only to keep entomologists from finding out that habitats
are being destroyed and rare species with them ;-)

Seriously, we had a case in Denmark some years ago demonstrating the
hypocricy of pure collecting restrictions.
The same days as our first legislation was issued forbidding
collecting some species of Odonata, Lepidoptera (3 butterflies only)
and Coleoptera (3 species), we had a clear case of habitat destruction
for one of these species. The large beetle Osmoderma eremita had one
of its largest know colonies in a row of old lime (Tilia) trees where
the larvae lived in hollow parts of the trunks. The trees were owned
by an estate and as they didn't want the trees they just cut them
down. The content containing hundreds of larvae of this and other rare
species were fed to the chickens and the remaining wood was cut to
firewood. The collector (at the Museum in Copenhagen) who heard about
this, had to get a permission to secure specimens from this now
extinct population, but the owner could destroy the trees completely
free and legally. Even when asked to intervene to at least save some
of the trees, Danish authorities couldn't do anything as there were/is
no legislation to prevent such disasters (private property). Instead
they were very keen to ensure that the collector had a permission to
pick some of the beetles.

We were also told that same story that collection restrictions are
needed to enforce habitat protections.
However, since 6 years we have only had proper activities to secure
habitats when amateur entomologists have been involved and pushing to
secure and evt. improve habitats for threatened species. To ensure
that collectors couldn't be accused of exterminating a species, we
have made an agreements among collectors not to collect 3 species
(besides the 3 legally protected species) of butterflies, but with the
condition that the habitats are protected as well.
It should be mentioned, that one species (Heodes tityrus) has been
extinct since 1986, the next (Coenonympha arcania) apparently died out
last summer as none was seen this year and only two males last summer
of which one was unfortunately collected. Last year the habitat was
severely disturbed as the bicycle path which was the main habitat was
covered with flagstones! The third butterfly covered by our own
"protection" is Papilio machaon but only preimaginal stages. This
species often comes as migrant from Sweden where it is rather common.
As we have only few and small habitats left for this species, it is
unlikely that it reestablishes. At least it has not happened for 20
years now.

No doubt that the discussion about the sanity of collection
restrictions is long and difficult, but here in Denmark we have
reached the point, that we - collectors - may now and then "eat" such
restrictions _if_ at the same time, serious efforts are performed to
save the habitat and its species. We will not accept collecting
restrictions before habitat protection but accept vice versa as
sensible and in our own interest. As collectors are the ones who knows
what goes on in our nature, we are also responsible of taking care of
the insects and the places they live in.

P. Stadel Nielsen, Denmark
fdki at _post2.tele.dk (omit underscore, I get lots of junkmail)

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