Environment

Butterfly find enriches Indian faunal diversity

Limenitis rileyi. — Photo: Natural History Museum, London

Limenitis rileyi. — Photo: Natural History Museum, London  

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It was earlier recorded only in Tibet, Myanmar and Vietnam

Marking an important addition to India’s rich wildlife, researchers have described Limenitis rileyi, a butterfly spotted in Arunachal Pradesh three decades ago as the first record of the species in the country.

London-based naturalist Purnendu Roy told The Hindu that he had found a single male species in July 1987 from Upper Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh at an attitude of about 1,800 metres.

Mr. Roy said that in 1987, there was no Internet and information on butterfly species was not widely available in the public domain. H.C. Tyler, who described the species in the 1940s in north-east Myanmar, did not describe it in great detail.

Due to lack of information, Mr. Roy had tentatively identified his find as a species related to Limentis rileyi that is found in Myanmar and China.

Now, he has described it in detail in a paper in the latest edition of Journal of Threatened Taxa. The species has previously been recorded in south-eastern Tibet, Myanmar and northern Vietnam.

It was only after taking expeditions to Arunachal Pradesh with another naturalist Sanjay Sondhi a few years ago, that Mr. Roy approached the British Natural History Museum to identify the butterfly that he had found in 1987.

He found that it was the first record of Limentis rileyi in India. Over the past few years the forest of Arunachal Pradesh, sharing borders with Myanmar, China and Bhutan, have been the site for identifying new species of butterflies or first records in India.

In 2013, Mr. Roy identified a new species of butterfly, Callerebia dibangensis, named after Dibang valley from where he collected the specimens.

Difficult to access

Naturalist Sanjay Sondhi said that the Dibang wildlife sanctuary is a remote area, very difficult to access but rich in biodiversity.

“There has been no sustained biodiversity assessment and if it is done it will reveal interesting details,” said Mr. Sondhi, a trustee of the Dehradun based Titli Trust. Mr Sondhi, who has worked extensively in the western part of Arunachal Pradesh, said that over the past few years he had found at least two additions to Indian butterflies: the Tibetan brimstone and the Ludlow Bhutan glory.

The Tibetan brimstone, a sub-species seen just once before in history, that too in China-occupied Tibet by British naturalist Frank Ludlow in 1938, was located in 2013 at Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kameng district of the State.

The Ludlow Bhutan glory, which was thought to be exclusive to Bhutan, was found at Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in 2012.

In 2015, scientists discovered a tiny butterfly from Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh and named it the banded tit (Hypolycaena narada).

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 8:35:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/Butterfly-find-enriches-Indian-faunal-diversity/article17195046.ece

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