IABES & Conservation

In the largest remaining stretch of tropical forest, deep in the hills of Western Jamaica known as Cockpit Country, flies a giant among butterflies, the rare and endangered Homerus Swallowtail (Papilio homerus). Threatened mostly by habitat loss through bauxite mining, this majestic butterfly has become the delicate ambassador of this still pristine habitat.

Today, several partners in conservation have teamed up into an alliance to try and save Homerus and Cockpit Country (www.cockpitcountry.com). The project, implemented in the field by the Windsor Research Centre (WCR) of Jamaica, has originally received financial support from the Dutch Zoo Conservation Fund (DZCF) as well as the International Tropical Conservation Fund (ITCF, www.itcfund.org). In 2006, the International Association of Butterfly Exhibitors and Suppliers (www.iabes.org) decided to join the effort.

IABES’ role is not only to spread the word about the necessity to preserve butterflies and their habitats - one of the major aims of IABES’ members in the first place -, but also to do something very concrete for a highly threatened butterfly. Through its Conservation Committee, IABES coordinates activities between partners within the project, and organizes fundraising within IABES.

All IABES members contribute towards the Homerus project, as a part of the membership dues dedicated to conservation. Besides this a number of IABES member institutions do active fundraising (list at the bottom of the page). 

Save Homerus Alliance


Facts on the Homerus Swallowtail

  • In 1988, the Homerus Swallowtail was listed in the World's top twelve endangered species of all categories by the IUCN; protected as an Appendix I species of CITES and by the Jamaican Wildlife Protection Act of 1945.
  • As the largest species of the genus Papilio in the world and the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere, this rare butterfly once inhabited most of Jamaica but has now dwindled into only two tiny populations: an eastern population, found where the Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains merge, and a western population in the Cockpit Country.
  • The Homerus Swallowtail larvae feed on Hernandia catalpifolia and H. jamaicensis, plants which are both endemic to Jamaica, and development takes a long 84 days from egg to the emerged adult.
  • Its adult numbers fluctuate rapidly, with peaks in July/August each year.
  • Currently endangering the Homerus Swallowtail at Cockpit Country are loss of forest canopy cover, illegal collecting and most importantly mining.

How can we Save Homerus?

The IABES Conservation Committee, together with its partners and foremost the Windsor Research Centre of Jamaica, has devised the following mid-term strategy for the preservation of the Cockpit Country of Jamaica, habitat of the endangered Homerus swallowtail.
Definition of boundaries in the field. It is unclear today what exactly the boundaries of Cockpit Country are or should be, as these have not been legally defined. It is feared that key habitats for Homerus in the Western part of Cockpit Country may not be included in a future definition the latter’s boundaries. The Save Homerus project proposes to visit all local communities around Cockpit Country and mostly so in the Western part of CC, in order to develop a sense of  “ownership” by local communities and obtain their support for an inclusion within Cockpit Country.
Organise symposium on Homerus and its conservation. This symposium was succesfully held in Kingston Jamaica on the 19th of April 2010. The symposium gathered all major scientists to have worked on Homerus, many of whom had never met. The proceedings of the Symposium can be downloaded from this website. It is hoped that these will serve as a solid scientific basis for the preservation of both Cockpit Country and Homerus. The proceedings and their recommendations have also be sent to all key actors within the Government of Jamaica.
Group photo of the attendees of the first Symposium on the Conservation of Homerus and Cockpit Country,
Kingston, Jamaica, April 19th 2010

Meetings with local communities Michael Schwartz, director of the Windsor Research Centre of Jamaica has, over the past few years, been very active in presenting what is at stake regarding the threats to Cockpit Country, by visiting numerous local communities. Emphasis is laid on the minimal benefits of bauxite mining, and on the fact that the creation of mining roads and the destruction of the pits will represent serious threats to the long-term development of eco-tourism in the region, notwithstanding the threats to aquifer and water quality in general.



If you are an butterfly related institution / IABES member:
  • Do passive fundraising, by pledging x $ cent(s) per visitor per year (e.g. 30’000 visitors @ 5 cents/visitor = US$1,500 )
  • Fundraise in your institution with the help of a display (see below)
  • Organise special campaigns / events
  • Encourage your visitors to become Friends of Homerus
  • Link these pages to your website
If you are an Individual:
  • Make a donation and spread the news.  You can also download this PDF form, should you want us to debit your credit card. You can then fax this form to us, which will be deleted after use.
IABES conservation
Sparkasse Koblenz
BLZ 57050120                
Account number: 178038                
IBAN CODE: DE24570501200000178038                
  • If you have a website, include the Save Homerus banner on your blog/website and link to this page
  • Promote this page on social networks like Facebook


Institutions who are currently actively contributing to help Save Homerus:

  1.  Papiliorama Foundation (Kerzers - Switzerland)
  2.  Vlinders aan de Vliet (Leidschendam - Netherlands)
  3.  Rotterdam Royal Zoological Garden (Netherlands)

Will you join us in saving Homerus?

PLEASE JOIN US! It will not cost you much to set-up your own campaign, but the results will be beneficial to both you and the project. Any amount you may fundraise will help, and together we can make a difference and save this amazing and endangered giant.

To make a pledge and start your fundraising activity, please email "Yes we will Save Homerus!" to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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