19 March 2019
Butterfly enthusiasts go to extreme lengths to get the perfect photographs of the winged creatures.
Butterfly enthusiasts go to extreme lengths to get the perfect photographs of the winged creatures.

Photographing butterflies: Creativity or destruction?

Photographing butterflies in the wild requires a lot of patience and skill, not to mention some highly specialized camera equipment. But what do you do when you can’t spare the time to get that perfect natural shot? 

As the small flying creatures have a mind of their own and do not care to cooperate, some photo enthusiasts in Hong Kong have been resorting to short-cuts and underhand — and sometimes brutal – methods to get their desired pictures.

The dubious activities are said to include practices such as capturing and freezing the butterflies, or clamping the wings of those colorful species with adhesive tape, as the photographers seek to fulfill their urges and get the right shot, Apple Daily reported Monday.

More than 60 percent of 300 people polled said they have seen others using unnatural ways for wildlife photography, the report said, citing a survey conducted by the Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve in Tai Po in March and April this year.

Forty percent of the photographers will not hesitate to remove plants and leaves that block the camera, while 30 percent will move the living creatures to places beneficial to their shooting, the survey showed. Thirty percent do not have any qualms about baiting their subjects, while 15 percent said they would want to capture the creatures and 10 percent said they will rear them.

It’s much easier to catch the butterflies when they first come out from their pupae or when the creatures are mating. Last month, a Tajuria maculate, a rare butterfly species, was seen with “all limbs broken”, an observer said. There is at least one such death case in the Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve every month, the report said, citing the reserve’s project manager Chio Yuk-lin.

Chio also said that some photographers will take the ovum or larva home and nurture them for photo shoots later. Some people are said to put butterflies in the fridge for photo preparation, or use adhesive tapes to fix their position.

The expert noted that if butterflies spend too much of their strength to go after bait placed by the photographers, they may not have the stamina to mate, and may even die. Female butterflies only mate once in their lives.

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