Monday, June 06, 2011

Harvard scientist in Sikkim on trail of new species of butterflies

GANGTOK: A Harvard University scientist is on a tour of Sikkim to find new species of butterflies in the Himalayan state which has a rich repository of over 650 varieties.

The scientist, Krushnamegh Kunte who is here as part of a 3-year research study on butterflies in Sikkim said, "In Boston, there is a museum on butterflies where many species are on display tagged 'From Sikkim'.
"But actually most of them have been collected from the eastern Himalayas and not from Sikkim. I want to update this collection and if possible, create maps of each species of butterfly in Sikkim," Kunte, the president of the Indian Foundation for Butterflies, said.

The eastern Himalayas comprise Darjeeling in West Bengal, the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya and the Indo-China border.

"There are more than 650 species of butterflies in Sikkim. Dzongu, the Lepcha reserve in North Sikkim is one area where where most of the species are found and hopefully new discoveries can be made," he said after completing a 10-day tour of East, West and North Sikkim districts.

Kunte, for whom this was the third trip to the state after the first in April 2008, said that he trekked from Phademchen to Pakyong in East Sikkim, but did not find any butterflies.

"We then went to Rongli and Rolep, and that was where we found lots of butterflies, some were rare, while others were the common types," he said.

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