The image posted below is the magnificent Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail (Bhutanitis ludlowi). This is the rarer of the two rare butterflies that I hope to photograph this season.
The image was acquired from Tobrang, which is about 5 hours trek from Bomdeling, Trashiyangtsi. The photo was shot at 9.30AM on 12th August, 2011 at an altitude of 2,281 Mtrs. The butterfly is seen feeding on a white flowering plant called Viburnum cylindricum.
I have heard some Forestry officials mention that this butterfly may soon be named as the national butterfly of Bhutan. This stunningly beautiful butterfly certainly qualifies to be called one.
The existence of this butterfly came to be known sometime in 1933-34 in Trashiyangtse area of Eastern Bhutan (possibly discovered by the famous English naturalist F. Ludlow, given that the butterfly is named "Ludlow"). Claims have been made that it also exists in Yunnan, China. However, to date, the claim and the source remain unverified.
Seventy-seven years later, this extremely rare butterfly was rediscovered on 28th August, 2009, by a Bhutanese Forester who was than working with the Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary. After two attempts, Mr. Karma Wangdi from Kheng Zurphey sighted and took a specimen of the butterfly from Tobrang area. He is currently attached with the Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), Bumthang.
A number of officials from the Nature Conservation Division, Thimphu and the UWICE, Bumthang are currently engaged in a collaborative research work with the Butterfly Society of Japan and NHK Television. This is perhaps the first ever such research done on the butterfly.
Honor is a serious business with the Japanese people so I am sure that they will not do a BBC tiger discovery job on us. I wish the research team the VERY BEST OF LUCK. They are still in Tobrang - I am on my way to the south of Trashigang – hunting for another less rare but even more beautiful butterfly called the BHUTAN GLORY.
Please wish me luck!