A team of Japanese researchers successfully collected five specimens of a rare species of giant swallowtail butterfly in Bhutan in August, the first confirmed sighting in almost 80 years, the researchers said recently.
Masaya Yago, an entomologist at the University Museum of the University of Tokyo, said the team found the Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail in a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Bhutan, at a site near where the species was first discovered by British plant hunters 78 years ago.
“When we found it, I was so moved that I just stood there and gazed at it for quite a while,” Yago said.
The species is known for its beautiful yellowish patterns on broad black wings and measures up to 12 centimeters with its wings spread.
The Japanese researchers had received information that a butterfly resembling the rare species was sighted in the area. The Butterfly Society of Japan and others involved in the project then spent half a year negotiating with the Bhutan government to obtain permission to enter the sanctuary that is normally off-limits to foreigners.
From the capital Thimphu, the researchers traveled for a week by car and then walked for several days before arriving at the site inside a forest.
The research team is a joint expedition with the Bhutan government.