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Sikkim: Rare hockeystick sailer butterfly rediscovered after 100 years

First Published: 22nd May, 2023 10:32 IST

Neptis nycteus nycteus is a rare species of butterfly endemic to the Himalayas, and its protection is ensured by the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 in India

Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha and Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha Jr. recently made a remarkable discovery in the remote region of Dzongu, located in the Mangan District of Sikkim.

They sighted the elusive Neptis nycteus nycteus de Nicéville, commonly known as the Hockeystick Sailer butterfly that was missing for 100 years in the area.

This rediscovery marks an important milestone in the conservation efforts of this legally protected species.

On May 18, at 10:12 am, on a sunny morning, the duo spotted the Neptis nycteus nycteus basking and mud puddling on the ground. The sighting took place at an altitude of 1,493 meters above mean sea level, in Fokpung Lee, Noom Panang village, which is part of the Passingdang Saffo GPU in upper Dzongu.

Neptis nycteus nycteus is a rare species of butterfly endemic to the Himalayas, and its protection is ensured by the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 in India. The last recorded sightings of this butterfly were reported in Lachen and Lachung in the North Sikkim District in 2012 by Dr. Sanjyog Rai, Karma Dorjee Bhutia, and Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte.

The sole specimen of this species was housed in the butterfly collection at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, USA. The specimen was labeled “Gangtok Sikkim Himalaya mont. 3500 m.”

Although the collection date remains unknown, it is estimated to be from the late 1800s or the early 1900s.

Based on extensive field studies and analysis of its altitude, shape, color, and pattern, the local Lepcha community has officially named this butterfly “Aa-dum Kok-vium Thamblyok,” which translates to “White Hook” in English.
The historic rediscovery of Neptis nycteus nycteus in Dzongu would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts and passion for butterflies displayed by Sonam Wangchuk Jr. The Butterfly Society of Sikkim-TPCF, under the leadership of Chief Nosang M. Limboo and General Secretary Sonam Pintso Sherpa, played a pivotal role in coordinating and supporting this achievement.

The Butterfly Society of Sikkim, along with its members, including Sonam Pintso Sherpa, Ukila Bhutia, Mingdup Lepcha, Janukit Lepcha, Dilip D. Sharma, Sushma, Abhishek, Bharat Karki, Amrita, Lendup, and many others actively involved in the study of butterflies, contributed significantly to this endeavor.

Also Read : Sikkim: Minor pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her tenant



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