Tropical Butterfly Surveys and Conservation in the Rainforest

Volunteers Cameroon South West Cameroon

2-10 people, including staff.
English, French

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Butterflies are magical creatures, found in many colours and sizes. In Cameroon there are about 1593 butterfly species, 110 of which are endemic. The Lebialem Highlands of south west Cameroon are a butterfly hotspot, with the largest and most beautiful and rare species. As you enter the rainforest, you're instantly immersed, surrounded by these beautiful winged creatures and the lush vegetation that is their natural habitat.

The butterfly plays an important role in ecosystems, acting as a pollinator, contributing to biodiversity and an indicator of the ecosystem's well being. Volunteering on this project will lead you to participate in butterflies surveys and census in unique rainforest areas which have never been surveyed before. You will spend nights in the rainforest and your days identifying butterfly species. The data you collect will be used to design the first checklist of butterflies of the Lebialem highlands and a conservation programme that protects crucial butterfly habitats.


  • Orientation meeting: training on methodology used in butterfly surveys
  • Hiking in the forest surveying butterflies
  • Working with datasheets, collecting GPS coordinates and taking photos of the butterflies
  • Botanic surveys, study of butterfly host species
  • Bait observation
  • Identification of the butterfly species recorded
  • Produce butterfly checklists and posters
  • Visit to the Limbe Botanical Garden


Being part of a dynamic team, made up of volunteers from across the world, specialist and field guide from the local communities. In the field you will hike across the forest spotting butterflies, collecting GPS coordinates, taking photos, filling data sheets and identifying the species registered. You will sleep in forest camps and enjoy the simple but tasty meals cooked by the team. In the office you will enter the collected data, help design a butterfly check lists and posters. You will also visit the Limbe Botanical Gardens and Mount Cameroon.

What difference does this project make?

Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. The surveys and census will also assist us in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on butterflies and other wildlife in the area.

The methods we use is not detrimental to the life of any butterfly.