Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ludlow's Bhutan Swallowtail

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!


  1. all the best with your hunt for the Bhutan Glory!

  2. A very best of Luck..hoping to see the beautiful pictures of those butterfly as always.

  3. I won't stop envying you and your beautiful photographs. As I comment this, I wish the Sun appeared in the overcast sky of Pema Gatshel tomorrow. Wishing you my sincere in-depth wishes. See you soon.

  4. I have some faint memories of sighting many such butterflies, especially in summers in my village back in those days. I am not sure if they are of same kind but from your picture, i am pretty sure they look similar. And given the proximity of my village to Yangtse Dzongkhag, we cannot rule out the possibility of what I have seen being the same butterflies as in your photo. If you give me a print out copy of a photo of this butterfly, I can ask my village folks if such butterflies are still sighted!

    Good Luck though!

  5. Oh Aue, I wish you all the best. Your photographs are truly amazing. All I can do is sit here and appreciate the way you click. Amazing. Good luck with all your endeavor.

  6. Hi All,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Well, no luck!!! The whole of Pemagatshel area has been covered in thick fog and it rained non-stop for the past three days. So my hunt for the Bhutan Glory is a miserable failure. SO I will have to hunt all over again, next season. I will start my journey back and should be in Thimphu in about three days time.

    Phuntsho Tashi, thanks for the info. Can you tell me where your village is? I would love to know so that I can cross check it with others. I would also like to make a trip next year ... so please tell me where your village is.

    I would also be happy to give you a print out of the butterfly. I have photos much better than the one posted here. I will give you one showing the full wing pattern - instead of the side and the underpart which this photo depicts.

    Please let me know how to contact you - or you can send me a mail at


  7. Beautiful butterfly. Good luck with your mission. By the way what were you trying to say on my blog? Cant read the signs...:))

  8. Yeshey, am sorry I didn't get to wish you luck in search for your "Bhutan Glory", but then this one is surefire a glory too! It's amazing. I wonder what is the life span of such an exquisite being. Anon.

  9. Hi y World, My Read,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Hahaha ... that was becuase I couldnt understand what you wrote ,... so I commented in a manner that you wouldnt understand LOL

  10. Hi Anon,

    I do not know the life span .. when I asked I am told that it is around 60 days.

  11. wow, master, those are stunning photographs! I wish I had the gift that you have sometimes! Thank you so much for the wonderful art! Wish be plenty of luck, right amount of lights, great weather, and strong health!

  12. Hi Kit

    Thanks for the comment. Where did you disappear? Are you still in Hawaii? I was beginning to think that you have been sucked in by the Bermuda Triangle :)

    I hope things are good with you. Any plans to visit Bhutan any time soon? Please update.

  13. What was the dishonor with the BBC Tiger films? Please explain. I saw them and thought they were very beautiful. & I thought their "discovery" claims focussed only on the fact that tigers were breeding at over 3,500 meters?
    Interested to know the back-story, though I guess you may not notice comment on such an old post

  14. Hi Anon,

    I saw the film too .. and it was good. However, my problem with the BBC team is that they claim that they were the first ones to record the tigers at that height which is not true. They took the entire credit when organizations like the WWF, Department of Forests and many other national and international agencies deserve praise for their hard work. It was unethical for BBC to claim that they were the first one to record the tiger on film. Even those people in the BBC team who had earlier seen the existing records of tiger's existence at those heights, during their earlier trips, shamelessly took credit and made no mention of the existing records.

    To make matters even worst, the people at the BBC erased their earlier comments when we in Bhutan began to make noise.