Local film stars butterflies

2016-12-02 10:32
Clive Curtis at work, photographing larvae in his garden in Howick.

Clive Curtis at work, photographing larvae in his garden in Howick. (Ian Carbutt)

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A Howick man is putting the final touches on the country’s first documentary on South African butterflies.

Howick local Clive Curtis of the Lepidopterist (the study of moths and butterflies) Society of Africa began filming the documentary in 2012 in a bid to bridge the gap between the knowledge about butterflies among ordinary citizens and scientists.

Curtis’s love for butterflies and insects started when he was 10 years old and living on a farm in Otto’s Bluff with his family.

Soon, his interest in butterflies grew and he began collecting them and reading up on different species and their habitats.

In 2002, Curtis started work as a field guide, compiling species guides for KwaZulu-Natal game reserves.

While working as a field guide, he said he started filming safaris and expeditions for clients, and once he realised that the general public did not have a lot of information on the winged creatures, he decided to “bridge the gap” by making a documentary.

In 2012, he started gathering footage of common and rare butterflies from the foothills of the Drakensberg, to Kar­kloof and even Pietermaritzburg’s Butterflies for Africa facility.

He said the documentary would enable people to view footage of different butterflies’ behaviour that had not been caught on film before.

“I wanted to make something interesting, especially since there are no documentaries on South African butterflies,” he said.

Curtis said people are more aware of conservation with a boom in cultivating mostly indigenous gardens.

The documentary will provide information on what plants attract which butterflies as well as fill the “void” of information with field guides in reserves, he said.

“The documentary takes a look at the general butterfly ecology.

“It looks at their lives from start to finish, as well as interesting facts about different species.

“It will look at how to identify different butterflies, where to look for them and their habitats from coastal forests to high-altitude grasslands,” he said.

Curtis said the film will also explain the difference between moths and butterflies, look at conservation models for rare butterflies and give an overview of their lives.

“The majority of the documentary was filmed in the Midlands, as well as the Kalahari, the North Coast of KZN, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

“I love being in wild places and to go in search of butterflies, especially the rarer species, is a challenge.

“It is also an excuse to go to places you would not usually go.”

He said there are numerous scenes in the documentary that have “never been filmed or photographed” before.

The documentary should be ready for release in March next year with a percentage of the proceeds going to butterfly conservation projects, he said.

For a sneak peak of the documentary, follow South African Butterflies — The Journey of a Documentary on Facebook.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  documentaries

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