Brunei's New Butterfly Garden

I was away in St Petersburg, Russia when the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports officially opened the Butterfly Garden at the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park. I had known about the park project ever since I joined the Ministry in October 2011 and I am really happy that it is finally open. For those of you who want to go there, all you have to do is drive all the way to Tasek Merimbun or if you want more information, call the Butterfly Centre at 4269179.

The Media during the Opening of the Buttefly Garden (source: Museums Department)

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports observing the butteflies (source: Museums Department)

The following is Borneo Bulletin's reporting of the opening of the Butterfly Garden.

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Wednesday, 4th July 2012, Bandar Seri Begawan - The newly opened Butterfly Garden, which is part of the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park and located close to the Tasek Merimbun Gallery Hall, provides visitors the experience of witnessing the interesting interaction between butterfly species and the shrubberies surrounding them, which is symbiotic to their lifecycles.

Since 1996, the Department of Museums has collected over 300 species of butterflies from within the country. The total number of species in the country is believed to stand at over 4,000.

In an interview with YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali, the Curator of Natural History and Manager of Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, it was learnt that the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park hopes to improve its facilities and enhance visitors' experience.

YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali said the Butterfly Garden is the first step towards achieving that goal.
"We are also trying to work with other stakeholders - such as the Brunei Tourism - as we want to become one of the places of interest in the country."

In response to whether there are plans to commercialise the site, for example by operating a ticketing system for entry, a practise which could help ease the maintenance cost of the site, YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali said, at the moment there are no plans for that because it is quite difficult to levy a ticket.

"Because as an Asean Heritage Park, there are certain things that we have to take into consideration... that we have to maintain in order to remain as one of the Asean Heritage sites," he explained.

However, he is hopeful the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park can be expanded and improved in terms of its facilities. The park is the only area in Brunei declared as Asean Heritage site.

"Hopefully, that's our plan. But, we first need to think about expanding what we have within the park."

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah as guest of honour at the official opening of the Butterfly Garden yesterday noted that the Butterfly Garden is a significant part of Tasek Merimbun because with it, the younger generation who live in sprawling modernity can see the many butterfly species existing in the country, which they would otherwise not have been able to.

"Thus, it is also a good place for students to visit, because the Butterfly Garden and the park itself are not only places where visitors can take a leisure break, but can also become study visit sites for students," said Pehin Dato Hj Hazair.

"Tasek Merimbun can become a significant area where students can view a variety of insects, such as the many butterfly species at the newly opened garden."

It is also a place where students can see for themselves and thus be able to learn about the importance of the ecosystem to human and animal lifecycles.

The Butterfly Garden, which was envisioned by YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali, is a valuable contribution, providing an added value to the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, the minister added.

Meanwhile, the Butterfly Garden will provide visitors interesting experiences, such as how the insect uses a section of its mouth as a tube to suck nectar and 'Madu Bunga', how a caterpillar consumes leaves as well as its transformation to adulthood.

Other than that, the Brunei Museums Department will be conducting scientific studies on the butterflies and aspects of its ecosystem. The data from these studies will enable understanding on its population, habitat and also towards preserving the wild species.

Visits to the butterfly park will depend on approval from the park's management and weather conditions.

--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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