Text byZhao Yan Photographs by Yctng Jiankun
In days when habitat degradation, alien species invasion, climate change, excessive exploitation of resources, environmental pollution, and wildlife disease are commonplace, the speed of extinction amongst endangered species is accelerating at an alarming rate. The decreasing number of butterfiy species is one particularly troubling figure. A decrease in butterfiy population threatens the survival of other insects, which could cause a chain reaction leading to the demise of countless other animals. As a British biologist once remarked, man should never underestimate a butterfly.
Inspired by his special fondness for butterflies, Zhao Qinglin established a butterfly breeding base in Beijing´s suburbs. "As a result of extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides,it´s no longer easy to find beautiful but terfiies in the wild now," lamented Zhao, "so we started trying to preserve their beauty."
Zhao recalled his initial intention when he and his wife made the decision to breed butterfiies. "Since their natural beauty is fading,.we hoped to revive the beauty with our own hands," he explained. "We love butterfiies because they´re beautiful, but the decline of the species should be considered a sign of an eco-crisis. We are just trying to restore the idyllic life that I believe everyone adores, which includes butterfiies and dragonflies dancing amongst flowers along with birds, chicken, and dogs twittering nearby. Breeding butterfiies is an attempt tosalvage beauty."
Zhao´s initial dream is slowly becoming a reality, with his home evolving into an attraction that amazes more and more visitors. His 20,OOO-square-meter courtyard is surrounded by houses amidst green trees facing a verdant vegetable garden in the distance, and beneath an adjacent flower shelf, fiocks of chickens, ducks, geese, and dogs leisurely frolic. Most importantly, of course, Zhao´s manor hosts a considerable population of butterflies.