A private sector initiative is setting up urban butterfly gardens in Sri Lanka, creating butterfly sanctuaries.The creator of the urban butterfly habitats is proposing the replication of his conservation model to support the survival of butterfly populations.Though there is high endemism, Sri Lanka’s butterflies are threatened by multiple causes including habitat loss, deforestation, climate change and increase in alien species. Take a lifelong love for conservation, pair it with the right support group, and what do you get? An urban butterfly garden. A naturalist and author of several books on wildlife, Rajika Gamage’s biggest passion is to contribute to species conservation, both fauna and flora. But butterflies always have set his heart aflutter. A decade ago, he attempted to set up an urban butterfly garden with the support of a global conservation body. But it bore no fruit. He was surprised, therefore, when the private company behind the globally famous tea brand Dilmah offered support to help him set up an urban butterfly sanctuary, a concept he pioneered in Sri Lanka. In 2011, together with Dilmah Conservation, Gamage created an urban butterfly park on the site of what was once a garbage dump for a clothing company. Rajika Gamage, the creator of the urban butterfly garden, sharing the ‘butterfly experience’ with young visitors. Photo courtesy of Rajika Gamage/Dilmah Conservation While many conservationists doubted the viability of a butterfly garden in an urban setting, a determined Gamage worked with his team to convert some 660 square meters (7,080 square feet) of stinky marsh into a butterfly sanctuary. With six inches of new soil, the plot was soon landscaped to create the butterfly garden in Moratuwa, in southwestern Sri Lanka. Here, even on the cloudiest day, more than 15 species of butterflies can be easily observed, with more than 60 species recorded since its opening in 2011. Sri Lanka Blue Oak Leaf (Kallima philarchus) is a Nymphalid butterfly known for its spectacular shaded blue wings. With wings closed, it closely resembles a dry oak leaf. Sri Lanka is home to 245 species of butterflies, 26 of them found nowhere else on the planet. The very first studies of the island’s butterflies were published by James Emerson Tennent in Ceylon, Physical, Historical and Topographical in the 1840s. In 2008, well-known butterfly expert Michael van der Poorten discovered a new species known as Catopsilia scylla, the first new butterfly to be described in 60 years.