Butterfly find enriches Indian faunal diversity


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 said 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.


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