Arunachal Pradesh: A hotspot of butterflies
Arunachal Pradesh can be deemed as a national treasure trove when it comes to the floral and faunal possession in India. The land of dawn lit mountain is well known for its rich abundance of lush green forests and wild inhabitants. With prominent wildlife hotspots like the Namdapha National Park, Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary etc. in the state providing shelter to various exotic animals, the faunal richness is quite an attraction for the visitors coming from outside. Apart from these, Arunachal Pradesh is also a haven for various butterfly species.
The state is a biodiversity hotspot that is endowed with different species of mesmerising butterflies. According to the , Butterflies of India there are around 582 butterfly species that has been recorded so far in the state. With so many pristine and unexplored places, the count is still on. Almost every year, new species of butterflies are recorded in the state. Wildlife hotspots like the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Namdapha National Park, Tale Wildlife Sanctuary etc. are contributing their best in discovering new butterfly species. Places like Ziro and Mishmi Hills are well reputed for the abundance of rare butterflies recorded in the state. In October 2021, a beautiful species of butterfly was discovered from the Mishmi Hills near Mayudia Pass by four naturalists and butterfly enthusiasts, Minom Pertin, Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, Nawangla Bhutia and Roshan Upadhaya. The specie is commonly known as the Bhutan Glory (Bhutanitis lidderdalii), because it is found in Bhutan.
In the year 2020 during the Ziro Butterfly Meet, rare butterfly species like the Tytler’s treebrown was spotted about a decade later, and around 60 species of butterflies were recorded, including some of the rare ones.
Though the departments of forest and wildlife in Arunachal Pradesh along with volunteers and butterfly enthusiasts have been organising events in order to impart awareness on butterflies and their conservation, safeguarding the existence of these butterflies is a matter of concern. Recent studies have shown that the use of pesticides has a negative impact on the abundance of butterflies in the state. Growing number of deforestation is also posing a threat to these fluttering angels. In recent years, the state has also witnessed erratic changes in the climate, and could become one of the factors resulting in the loss of habitat of butterflies.
As a land endowed with the rarest of butterfly species, there is an immense need of awareness events on butterfly conservation in light of possible threats to their habitation. These events must be aimed at sensitising local people on the importance of butterflies and measures they can take to play their part in their conservation.
A good start
Butterflies are not just pretty fluttering creatures; they are one of the important components of the food chain. They also play a pivotal role as an indicator of a healthy eco system.
The remarkable diversity of butterflies attract tourists from all over the nation, which in turn provide local employment and help in generating state revenue. Realising this, Government of Arunachal Pradesh have taken a very big step by declaring Kaiser-i-Hind (Teinopalpus imperialis) as the State Butterfly. This decision was taken during a Cabinet Meeting at the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Pakke Kessang. Apart from connecting the roots of “Hind” with Arunachal Pradesh, it is a sincere effort of GoAP towards protecting the existence of wildlife in the state. Various wildlife spots hold annual events like the Butterfly Meet of Ziro, the Namdapha Butterfly Meet, Pasighat Butterfly Meet at Ledum etc. in order to attract butterfly enthusiasts as well as tourists into the state. These events also help in the important discoveries of new species of butterflies as well as in imparting awareness to the locals.
While the topic of butterflies of Arunachal Pradesh is not new, it has not gotten a good amount of limelight in comparison to the other attractions in the state. Thanks to some of the butterfly enthusiasts of Arunachal Pradesh, the netizens are finally realizing and appreciating the abundance of the gifts of nature. Butterfly enthusiasts, researchers, wildlife photographers like Minom Pertin, Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, Nawang Gyatso Bhutia, Roshan Upadhaya, Mayur H Variya and many more are engaged in introducing this beautiful world of butterflies to the netizens by recording and capturing rare species of butterflies in frame. However, there are many more rare species yet to be discovered and more initiatives are required to make it possible. We’re hopeful that the collective approach of the Government, researchers and volunteers will inspire more people to come forward and join hands in conserving the butterflies of Arunachal Pradesh.