New butterfly species seen in Visakhapatnam district

Study conducted in Eastern Ghats over a period of time

October 29, 2020 01:08 am | Updated 01:08 am IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Leopard lacewing - one of the newly recorded butterfly species found by a team of three researchers from Visakhapatnam district.

Leopard lacewing - one of the newly recorded butterfly species found by a team of three researchers from Visakhapatnam district.

When a team of three nature enthusiasts embarked upon a study to document butterflies of Visakhapatnam district, little did they realise that they would chance upon butterfly species never before recorded in the region.

A study done by Appanna Saragada, E. Ramakrishna and Ramana Bhusala has brought to light a number of species that made their presence felt for the first time in the Eastern Ghats bordering Visakhapatnam and its urban ecological hotspots. The research was done over a period of time in Araku, Sileru, Chintapalli, Devarapalli Hills, Anantagiri, Kailasagiri and Simhachalam Hills.

The newly recorded species from Visakhapatnam region include African marbled skipper, tree flitter, chestnut angle, chestnut bob, fluffy tit, colour sergeant and double banded crow.

Among the recent finds, three species fall under the protected (Schedule) category of Wildlife Protection Act (1972). These are the marbled map, orange tail awl and tree flitter.

“When we put together all our records and collated with past findings, we knew that we had discovered something very special this time,” said Ramana, Forest Section Officer, Visakhapatnam Division. He along with his two teammates had been touring the interior parts of Visakhapatnam’s Eastern Ghats and forest range for the past six years to collect data on butterflies. The pictorial evidences of all newly recorded species were captured with a Nikon DSLR 5300 camera and 300 mm and 105 macro lenses.

Protected under Schedule II of Wildlife Protection Act, the marbled map or Cyrestis cocles, for instance, is listed as a ‘rare’ butterfly species confined to the hilly forests in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bhutan and Myanmar. Four years ago, it made a chance entry into the thick forests of the Eastern Ghats near Maredumilli mandal in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

‘Little research’

Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Rahul Pandey welcomed the news and said that while the Eastern Ghats is not known to be very high in density for butterflies, little research is being done in this zone. “Such studies will bring focus on this region’s flora and fauna,” he said.

Dolphin Nature Conservation Society (DNCS) founder and president M. Rama Murthy said that butterflies are a very good indicator to judge how sound the biodiversity and ecology of the area is. “The Eastern Ghats has been drawing a good number of researchers in the recent past. More such collaborative efforts need to be done for better understanding of butterfly species of the region,” he said.

DNCS has been undertaking periodical survey of the region and in 2018 had presented a study recording new butterfly species visiting Visakhapatnam district.

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