Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bhutan Adopts A National Butterfly

GREAT NEWS! We now have a national butterfly. The Cabinet, upon the recommendation of the Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture and Forests, His Excellency Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho, has approved, on 16th February, 2012 the Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail (Bhutanitis ludlowi) as our national butterfly.

The butterfly is truly magnificent - and very, very rare. Notwithstanding the unproven claim made by Chou that it is also found in the southwestern Sichuan province of China, it is generally accepted that the butterfly is endemic to Bhutan and is found nowhere else in the world. Even in Bhutan, it is so rare that, as of today, the Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail is found NO WHERE ELSE - except in Tobrang areas of Trashiyangtse, Eastern Bhutan.

The Royal Government is certainly being very, very courageous in naming this near extinct butterfly as our national butterfly. I shudder at the thought that should there be some epidemic in and around its habitat, they could be rendered extinct. What happens then? It is a perilous thought!

I hope the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Department of Forestry will remain vigilant and ensure that our national butterfly and its habitat are protected to ensure that they do not perish. Perhaps it may be wise to consider the introduction of this butterfly species to other parts of the country where the habitat and climactic conditions may be conducive for the propagation and proliferation of these butterflies.

The photo below of the Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail is of the sample collected by Sonam Wangdi, Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forestry, Bhutan and Dr. Yago Masaya, Butterfly Society of Japan, during August, 2011:

Another equally majestic and rare butterfly that is found in Bhutan is called the Bhutan Glory (Bhutanitis lidderdalii). It was first discovered in Bhutan in 1868 by Dr. R. Lidderdale. The drawing shown below was prepared and described by Mr. William Stephen Atkinson from one of the samples collected by Dr. Lidderdale from Bhutan in 1872.

The butterfly is found in Assam, Sikkim, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Szechwan and Yunnan provinces of China. In Bhutan, I know that they are found in Gedu, Khaling and Pemagatshel areas.

Both of these butterflies are Swallowtails. Unless one takes a careful look, they look almost identical:


  1. Yeshey,

    I still have a Tshirt with the patchwork you choose as wallpapaer. Lovely...

  2. A national Butterfly? How lovely, and the butterfly is indeed gorgeous. Anon.

  3. This species of Bhutanitis (B. lidderdali) is hung in a small box on the wall of the lab of the Zoology Department of Sherubtse College for over a decade now. I had personally observed this butterfly in places like Yonphula, Kharungla and Wamrong area when I was in the east. The butterfly is seen flying high above the trees around the months of September -November. Perhaps a study of this variety will be as interesting as the ludwigi species that has received the status of national butterfly.

  4. Hi Shiva Bhattarai

    You are absolutely right - the Bhutan Glory is found in the places you named and during the months you indicated. I have also been told of the Sherubtse specimen that was collected a long time back. Regarding the study, that is a good suggestion – but may be someone has already done it.