Newly discovered butterflies and orchids added to protection list

Scientific studies have encountered new species that live and propagate on the Maltese islands alongside an endemic new orchid in Gozo

The Papilio machaon was discovered in Malta amongst other species of butterfly
The Papilio machaon was discovered in Malta amongst other species of butterfly

A large white butterfly was discovered amongst other species of butterflies in Malta that are endangered and was subsequently added to the list of protected plants and animals. 

The Papilio machaon is also known as the Old World swallowtail and was recently discovered in Malta, the Environment and Resources Authority said. This butterfly has now earned a spot on Malta's list of protected species.

Among these newly discovered species is also an endemic orchid known as the Gozo Spider Orchid found exclusively in Gozo. The self-taught botanist Stephen Mifsud had discovered this species while working with the Gozo Ministry last May. 

The Gozo Spider Orchid is endemic to Gozo
The Gozo Spider Orchid is endemic to Gozo

The orchid, he had said, is a hybrid between the endemic Maltese spider orchid and the Sawfly orchid. He named it Il-Brimba t'Ghawdex. This too is now a protected species. 

A statement released by ERA on Monday said that other species of orchid, coral, sharks and butterflies were added to the list of protected plants and animals. 

Lophelia pertusa, a cold-water coral growing in deep waters through the Atlantic, was discovered in Maltese waters and was added to the list.

"ERA is currently in a better position to safeguard new species of flora and fauna and to protect specific areas of the Maltese environment. This is a result of newly amended Regulations on the Protection of Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats," the authority said, adding that it had worked alongside the environment ministry to draw up the new rules. 

New species of coral found in Maltese waters was added to the list of protected species
New species of coral found in Maltese waters was added to the list of protected species

Through these regulations, when ERA is of the opinion that a species has an unfavourable conservation status or one that is worsening, the authority may issue an urgent protection notice.

The law also gives more protection to specific sites and allows for more flexibility in the designation of protected areas. Under the new regulations a site may be proposed for protection on the basis of ecological, geological and natural features it offers. Additional penalties for crimes committed within protected sites have also been introduced.

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