Everything that flies (and breathes)!


It has taken ten years for me to begin to tackle the Charaxes. Today Toran and I confirmed the occurrence of the White-barred Emperor, (C. brutus alcyone/natalensis), in our rewilding garden, when one trapped itself in the kitchen. The fore-wing of another that was eaten by a bird can be seen here on the left-hand side.

Before this year I had only managed to find two species of  Pasha, or Emperor, in this two acre garden.

The first, also on the page (shown above) from Steve Woodhall’s wonderful book published by Struik  – A Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa – was 2A the Foxy Emperor or Two-tailed Pasha.

This is an even more widespread species that has managed to maintain Palearctic populations in the Mediterranean basin. There the caterpillars feed on leaves of the Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). I think the first time I saw that species,  in November 1991, was at a “BirdQuest customer reunion” in Corsica. That individual was, most unusually, a migrant, and heading south in the autumn sunshine from a lighthouse near the southern tip of that island.

The second species to occur here was the almost as widespread Green-veined Emperor, which is certainly still common around Arusha. Recently we have also identified the dark and dainty, much scarcer Baumann’s Charaxes (Emperor) quite near here, at Chem-chem, a tiny evergreen forest fragment, down the hill in the heart of Arusha’s Burka Coffee Estate. Last year it seemed highly likely that this last patch of “lowland” forest would be sold-off to private property speculators, but now, that does not look so likely.

If I ever find a new species of ‘something honourable’ in any of Tanzania’s scattered forests I shall name it out of respect for the current president of Tanzania  : Mr John Magafuli.