Moth named after Apatanis

The moth found in Arunachal Pradesh on Monday. Picture by Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi

A moth, new to the world of science, is being named after the Apatani community of Arunachal Pradesh.

The moth was first photographed by Punyo Chada, a schoolteacher and an avid naturalist at Tale Valley in September 2010.

The decision to name the moth after the Apatani community was taken at the third Northeast Butterfly Meet, which concluded at Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh yesterday. The four-day meet was organised by the Butterflies of Northeastern India Group in collaboration with Ngunu Ziro in the Ziro area of Lower Subansiri district, Arunachal Pradesh, from September 16.

This is for the first time that a moth is being named after Apatani community.

"The common name will be Apatani Glory, as Ziro is inhabited by the Apatani community and it will take around three months to finalise the scientific name," Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, a well-known butterfly expert from Assam who attended the meet, said .

The Apatanis, one of the major ethnic groups of the eastern Himalayas, have a distinct civilisation with systematic land-use practices and rich traditional ecological knowledge of natural resources management and conservation, acquired over the centuries through informal experimentation. He said a specimen has been found Talle Valley, which is 12km from Ziro area, the venue of the butterfly meet, which is required to name the species.

"Luckily we got a specimen this time as it is very rare," he said.

Gogoi said the butterfly's scientific name will be named after Punyo Chada, as he was the first one to take its picture.

"The naming of the butterfly after the Apatani community will be a big boost as it will encourage them to work for conservation. It is a big honour for me personally as the species will be named after me," he told The Telegraph."I will be helped by James Young, the chairperson of the Hong Kong Lepidopterist Society, in giving a scientific name as he was present at the meet," he added.

The moth is found in the same area where the Bhutan Glory is found.

Forty-six participants from Arunachal, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Sikkim and Bengal participated in this meet. Members of the Hong Kong Lepidopterist Society also participated and was represented by its chairperson James Young and Shong Chong, its finance secretary.

"The significant diversity of butterflies can be attributed to the large altitudinal range in the region. However, the study of butterflies in Northeast is still in a nascent stage and it requires more effort. The first step is to do an inventory of butterfly diversity and richness," said Young.

The objectives of this meet were to provide a common platform to butterfly enthusiasts, and wildlife professionals to discuss, interact and exchange knowledge and ideas on butterfly diversity, range distribution and conservation. It is also for exploring lesser-known protected areas with rich butterfly diversity and to document the butterflies of that area.

"Such meets are important to bring together butterfly enthusiasts and experts from around the region," Gogoi said.

Some of the significant species recorded at Talle Valley were Scarce Evening Brown (very rare), Bhutan Glory (rare and threatened), Brown Gorgon (rare), Confusing Threering (lesser-known species), Yellow Owl (rare) and Manipur Jungle Queen (rare).

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