New butterfly species

A new butterfly species was discovered by Szabolcs Sáfián, Institute of Silviculture and Forest Protection, University of West Hungary, while carrying out a survey in collaboration with the Forest Project. The new species, Neurellipes rhoko, is described in the September 2014 edition of Zootaxa, a leading scientific journal. Discovery of a new species is such a rare event that it also hit the headlines in the national press (Nigerian Tribune, 18 September, The Guardian, 5 October).

The discovery took place in June 2012 during an exploratory trip by Szabolcs Sáfián and Deni Bown to the Rhoko Forest Reserve, Cross River State, a conservation area managed by the Centre for Education, Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature (CERCOPAN). The aim of their visit was to compare the richness and abundance of flora and butterflies in the Rhoko Reserve and the IITA Forest Reserve.
Specimens of N. rhoko were caught and compared with species of the same genus in the IITA forest and with specimens from other parts of West Africa which are held in collections at the African Butterfly Research Institute, Nairobi. Differences in appearance, coloring, and behavior confirmed it as a new species.

new butterfly species Neurellipes rhoko new butterfly species Neurellipes rhoko

N. rhoko belongs to the forest-dwelling Neurellipes mahota group in which scientists had long recognized three species: N. georgiadisi, N. gola, and N. mahota. These are separated by bio-geographical gaps and subtle differences in appearance and structure. But despite extensive scientific studies of butterflies in West Africa, N. rhoko had remained unknown until now. Two related species, N. fulvimacula and N. lyzanius, are among 236 butterfly species recorded at the IITA-Ibadan campus.


African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon)

The African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon), known as arere in Yoruba and obeche in Bini, is a large fast-growing tree, reaching 65 m (213 ft), usually with a straight trunk and buttresses up to about 8 m (26 ft) high. It belongs to the family Sterculiaceae and is common in semi-deciduous rainforests from Sierra Leone to Gabon and Congo, including secondary forests where it may fill gaps as a pioneer species.

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