The Telegraph
Friday , July 18 , 2014
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Through the lens, a perfect flight of wings

- Survey of gossamer-winged butterflies at Gibbon wildlife sanctuary from tomorrow

Jorhat, July 17: Close on the heels of walks for the cause of the warty frog, DCP (Dr Caesar Photography) Expedition has turned its lens on an insect — the gossamer-winged, colourfully-patterned butterfly.

The photography group, which is inclined to wildlife conservation through the medium of capturing them on camera, is organising a survey of butterflies at the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary and an awareness campaign at the Gibbon Resort in Nakachari, 20km from here, from Saturday.

The expertise of Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, who is doing research on butterflies in the region for the past eight years, has been asked to guide the group.

“Butterflies are an important component of the environment, more so in a region which is considered to be one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They play a significant role in pollination of plants, maintenance of a food chain and food web and overall sustenance of the ecosystem. A fall in their population could be disastrous for many rare plants and flowers which thrive here,” Gogoi told The Telegraph over phone from Silchar where he is engaged in his doctoral thesis on butterflies.

He said butterflies were habitat indicators and therefore it was important to maintain the forests although they could be also found in towns and villages. “The state of Assam is highly diverse for low elevation butterflies and is the home of around 650 species out of 1,000 species occurring in the Northeast,” he said.

Narrating how he had got involved in butterfly conservation, Gogoi said: “I had always been shy and these tiny fluttering creatures were my friends in Bokakhat in Upper Assam where my home is. I documented 400 species in and around Kaziranga and made a movie on them during my college days.”

Gogoi said butterflies found in the forests of Jeypore-Dehing and Dima Hasao were the most diverse.

“The White Dragontail is so common in Dima Hasao that on good days, more than 100 can be sighted. Pallid Forester is an endemic butterfly restricted to Upper Assam, East Jaintia hills, Dima Hasao and Kachin in Myanmar. This rare butterfly, thought to be extinct here, was rediscovered at Jeypore-Dehing recently. Dima Hasao in south Assam has the rare Common Clubtail. The interesting part about Dima Hasao is that more Malayan species are visible with altitudinal variation,” he added.

Regarding butterflies at Gibbon, he said apart from different varieties, the Rare Brown Forest Bob was found here and the only other place where it could be sighted was in Manipur.

Diganta Gogoi, skipper, DCP, said among 40 participants, five from West Bengal had registered and more are expected.

“We are very happy with the success of the frog walks which jumped from 11 to 17 venues in Assam and to four venues from only two in Bengal after the news appeared in The Telegraph. In some parts, the walk was held at night,” he said.

Gogoi said he was unhappy with the government for not allowing the breeding of butterflies at the Butterfly Valley established by Numaligarh Refinery Limited. The government had disallowed the breeding after International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had sent a directive stating that it was illegal to breed butterflies in captivity.