Southern Birdwing Haven in India

The village of Salgini, nestled within the Netravali wildlife sanctuary, offers a breathtaking sight of the Southern Birdwing ( troides minos) flying in a leisurely manner.

Considered to be the largest among the Indian Swallowtail butterflies, it has a wing span of 140-190 mm. Though it is seen almost throughout the year, it is more common during and after the monsoon. Salgini which is 45 km away from Sanguem, is today cut off from transportation and pollution. Since, mining activities have been completely shut down from 2003 as the village’s forested areas lie in the biggest wildlife sanctuary of Goa, the area has transformed into a haven for flora and fauna.

Besides, legally protected Salgini has community conserved forest areas. The village has flowering plants and shrubs too which help these butterflies in many ways. Active during the early morning and flying above tree tops, it comes down to feed on nectar present in various colourful flowers.

Though they feed normally on lantana, ixora, in Salgini they can be spotted on diverse wild as well as cultivated food plants. There are shrubs of calcanthus grandiflorous with bluish-purple flowers which attracts these butterflies in the evenings.

As the village does not have too many vehicles and trucks, buses hardly enter the village, there is not much disturbance to these creatures and hence, 5-6 butterflies can be seen at a time.

Pankaj Lad, a naturalist from Margao who visited Netravali says, “The forest areas of Netravali are very conducive for butterflies like Southern Birdwing. As the area is not disturbed much and hasn’t degraded, these butterflies can be seen flying delightfully.”

The adult has large black and golden-yellow wings. The female Southern Birdwing is the largest among Indian butterflies.

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