Are Collectors Key to Saving Giant Butterfly?

It's afternoon in Kawowoki by now, and half the village has gathered in front of Grace Juo's house to look for a butterfly. The animal that was fluttering around her hut in the morning was a male. Now everyone hopes to be able to show the visitor from faraway Germany a female specimen of the royal butterfly.

While the women roast bananas and sweet potatoes in the embers of a fire, the men dispense advice on how to stalk a butterfly. The insects are usually seen high above the treetops, but only when the sun shines. Otherwise the moisture from the forest would make their wings too heavy.

But the weather is favorable today. Suddenly they all jump up and stare at the tops of nearby large trees. A female Queen Alexandra's Birdwing is gliding through the warm air at a surprisingly fast pace. Grace Juo excitedly lifts her arms up to the sky.

"The world has to know about our butterfly," she says, and with shining eyes she follows the flight of the dadakul, "and then people will come here with bundles of dollars in their hands!" Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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PHOTO: Jodie Foster and Alexandra Hedison attend the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Inaugural Gala presented by Salvatore Ferragamo at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Oct. 17, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
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