I originally emailed Naftali Honig (@congonaturalist) weeks ago, but email communication has been spotty, as he is in the Democratic Republic of Congo doing anti-poaching and anti-trafficking work, mainly with elephants but with other threatened wildlife as well. Originally from New York, Naftali says he “started getting involved in doing anti-poaching and anti-trafficking work after living in the rainforest for a year. I would have loved to just stay in the forest and explore, but there are too many threats to the wildlife I came to love there.” He’s a 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and you can read more about him and his work here.
Of course during his time and his work there, Naftali sees many other animals. “I see Common gliders all the time in Central Africa. They seem to be common here in this corner of the DRC...Curiously, right after this photo got chosen as Photo of the Week, what seemed like millions of Common gliders flew over the village where I was in DRC! Conditions must have been just right.”
The Common glider butterflies of Africa (Cymothoe caenis, different from the Common gliders of Eurasia, which are Neptis sappho) are, as their name suggests, common throughout tropical Africa, and are varied in color and pattern. The straight lines you see on the one above are markings on the underwings and wouldn’t normally be seen from above without strong backlighting, like we have here. They’re a migratory butterfly, and it’s likely Naftali saw a migrating group come through the village.
Naftali uses iNaturalist to log his findings, and says “Citizen science is a fascinating approach in the 21st century and frankly I've learned a lot about taxa for which I simply haven't got the guidebook out in the Congo! I'm usually not too far from my bird and mammal guidebooks, but butterflies? Wasps? Orchids? This global community of passionate people is really impressive and genuinely inspiring.”
- by Tony Iwane
- Here’s a video of National Geographic’s 2016 Emerging Explorers, including Naftali.