Rare butterfly rediscovered

The rare Bhutan Tree Brown butterfly was rediscovered in Bumdeling under Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag on 26 July.

It is just after the rediscovery of Ludlow’s Bhutan Glory three years ago which later earned as the National Butterfly of Bhutan.

The Bhutan Tree Brown butterfly was rediscovered by a team of researchers from Butterfly Society of Japan (BSJ), Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) and Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) forestry staff.

A news release from the WCD, states the team was in Bumdeling this July, on some research works on pupa of Ludlow’s Bhutan Glory when they sighted the Bhutan Tree Brown in the area.

“It was a mere chance sighting,” said WCD’s forest officer, Sonam Wangdi who captured the photo of the rare butterfly.

He said the Bhutan Tree Brown might be very rare in Bhutan.  This is ascribed to the fact that it wasn’t sighted last year when so many researchers were in the area. “Last year, we literally combed the whole forests in search of the early stages of Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail”.

Sonam Wangdi said that this chance sighting is a very important record for the purpose of butterfly conservation and could prove to be a good reason for its inclusion in the Schedule List of Butterflies in Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan as works are ongoing for revision of the Schedule list.

Bhutan remains largely pristine and unexplored from the inaccessibility point of view. “However, with works such as biodiversity assessment being done, it is providing us opportunity to find new documentation,” ” WCD’s Chief Forestry Officer, Sonam Wangchuk said.

Although it is not a new species, it is a new record for Bhutan. “It actually elevates the importance of biological diversity in Bhutan despite it being a very small Country”.

Literature review by experts indicated that Bhutan Tree Brown was first discovered by Elwes, way back in 1882 elsewhere. However, it was first recorded in Bhutan in the 1930s by some British explorers which must be the same time when Ludlow’s Bhutan Glory was discovered for the first time.

This butterfly was recorded as a rediscovery last year in India by the Foundation of Indian Butterflies when it was recorded in Northern part of Sikkim in 2011. The species was also recorded for the first time from Kachin state in Northern Myanmar where it is recorded as “very rare”.

This species is thought to occur in primary forest at 1,500-2,500m and perhaps one-brooded meaning it occurs only once in a year, during June to August. No studies on its early stages have been done so far.

CFO Sonam Wangchuk said especially when the biodiversity conservation is carried out, one of the priority activities is to look at endemism. “But we need to do little bit of ground work to source out where this species was first described from”.

This is because literature says that the butterfly is endemic to Bhutan, Sikkim and Northern Myanmar.

According to experts when they do biodiversity conservation of this species if they do not give due importance they will not find it at all after certain years.

The Bhutan Tree Brown remains as the newest entry in the Butterflies of Bhutan.

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