Rare butterfly species found

A rare species of butterfly, believed to be extinct, has been sighted and documented in Assam`s Kokrajhar district.

Last Updated: Aug 31, 2009, 14:30 PM IST

Kokrajhar: A rare species of butterfly, believed to be extinct, has been sighted and documented in Assam`s Kokrajhar district.

Researcher Kushal Choudhury who spotted the Yellow-Crested Spangle (Papilio elephenor), last sighted hundred years ago, photographed and documented it at Phipsu in the Ripu-Chirang reserve forest in the district.
This is the first-ever photograph of the live species to be taken in the world after it was first recorded by naturalist C T Bingham in 1907, confirmed Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Wildlife Division, Sonali Ghosh.

Choudhury said that he had documented the butterfly on May 22 in the Ripu-Chirang reserve forest.

The endangered species enjoys the status of Schedule One species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and is also included in the red data book of the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources (IUCN).
Choudhury has been studying swallow-tail butterflies on the north bank of river Brahmaputra from Sonkosh to Dhansiri river since 2002.

The DFO is jubilant over the sighting, saying that the forest department will do everything possibe to rear and preserve it.

``We had sent the photographs of the butterfly to experts outside, including Dr Krishna Kunte, and to several butterfly watching groups through the internet. All of them have confirmed that it is indeed the highly-endangered species,`` Ghosh told reporters.

Not only that, confirmation that it is the Yellow-Crested Spangle had come from eminent butterfly experts from the Harvard university in the US, Ghosh said.

The Ripu-Chirang reserve forest is the habitat of at least 300 varieties of bufferflies and 10 of these listed under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Records available say at least 62 species of swallow-tail butterflies have been found in Assam and half of them have been recorded in the Ripu-Chirang reserve forest.

Choudhury says the species requires a particular environment for survival which is there in the Ripu forest.

He expressed hope that another rare species of butterfly `Moores cupid` (Shijimia Moorei) would also be found there. This species was recorded in the Khasi hills of Meghalaya several decades earlier.

Unfortunately hundreds of them get killed everyday by vehicles on the Bismuri-Sorphang gravel road, which runs for 25 kms in the reserve forest, where they gather to draw mineral salts from soil.

Bureau Report