Meet Nosang Lomboo, the Butterfly Man of Sikkim

Gangtok, 18 Apr:

Nosang Limboo is a butterfly enthusiast, naturalist, wildlife photographer and a social worker from Sikkim. Born in Darap, West Sikkim, to Sushma Gurung and KB Limboo, Nosang studied at St. Mary’s School, Gyalsing and Pelling Senior Secondary School and went on to graduate in English Literature from St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling.

Some time back, Nosang had penned a pictorial guidebook on butterflies and moths and has been extensively carrying out butterfly conservation in Sikkim.

SummitTimes caught with the naturalist during an event in Gangtok and tried to delve into his passion for butterflies, nature and environment.

“As a student of English Literature, I always romanticized nature whenever possible in my writings. I have always been fascinated with nature. The rich green forests of the Northeast have always been very appealing to me and allured me to walk through its deepest woods and explore, whether it is the Namdhapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh, Nameri National Park in Assam or our very own Khangchendzonga National Park. Every minute element of the forests makes me fall in love with the wild beauty that it is. I always get passionate when I talk about nature,” says Nosang. 

When he ventured into tourism with ‘The Himalayan Rumveek’ travel agency with his friend Sonam Palzor Bhutia in the year 2009, Nosang did not yet know that he would become a butterfly enthusiast one day. That happened when he met Field Biologist Tarun Karmakar from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, and accompanied him to different parts of Sikkim as part of a research project on butterflies of Sikkim.

Looking at the enthralling photographs of butterflies shot and collected by Karmakar, Nosang was smitten and slowly developed an urge to explore the world of butterflies through his camera as well.

His interest in butterflies soared and during the three-month tour with the Field Biologist, Nosang too had built an impressive portfolio of photographs of more than 200 butterflies from Sikkim.

“Sikkim has been blessed with unique flora and fauna. Sikkim is home to many species of butterflies, but sadly we, Sikkimese, especially the younger ones, have failed to recognize this wealth and are hardly aware of it. So this may be also considered as one of the reasons why I chose to become a butterfly enthusiast and delve into the world of butterflies and make people aware of the wealth of butterflies that we all own,” Nosang adds.

In the year 2013, Nosang became the first Sikkimese to write a pictorial guide book on butterflies of Sikkim when he published, ‘The Flying Pearls of Sikkim’ which included pictures, descriptions and taxonomic classification of the butterflies that he had collected during his field visit to different parts of the state.

Nosang was supported by Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, Butterfly expert, Peter Smetecek, Founder of Bhimtal Butterfly Research Centre and Issac Kehimkar, author of “The Book of Indian Butterflies” and Assistant Director of Bombay Natural History Society for the taxonomic classifications of the butterflies.

“The publishing and launch of the first 500 copies of the book was very tough for me because I lacked resources and was new to writing books. I had no idea about any publication house but Divisional Forest Officer (T), West Sikkim, Tshering Pintso Bhutia and my friends Sunit Dahal, Akhil Gurung, Usen Gurung supported me in all the way,’’ said Nosang.

Nosang created history in the year 2014 by discovering ‘Papilio xuthus asiatic swallowtail’ butterfly from Walong, Arunachal Pradesh, India which was recognized by the Bombay Natural History Society.

The detailed scientific article on the same was also published in the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society in the year 2016. 

Apart from being a butterfly enthusiast, Nosang also has maintains a keen interest in Ornithology. He is currently associated with the Sikkim Ornithological Society (SOS) and has been involved with various initiatives to promote and disseminate knowledge on birds and butterflies among the young minds of the state.

Through SOS he has been engaged in distributing the ‘Birds and Butterfly Charts’ to around 500 schools across the State and has been conducting surveys and awareness programmes on birds and butterflies in many schools and villages. He is also creating bird calendars, and is actively involved in identifying bird watching areas in the State.

Besides his engagements with birds, butterflies and nature, he is also involved with many social organizations and initiatives.

Considering all the efforts and initiatives of Nosang, in the year 2015, a Delhi-based NGO, CMS Vatavaran conferred him with the ‘Green Ambassador’ award [2014-15].

“Walking around 30 kilometres everyday in the forests of Mukrung, Yuksam, Tashiding and Rimbi capturing butterflies with my camera was not really understood by my parents initially. Now, however, when I see many young faces around coming to me with high degree of inquisitiveness to understand butterflies, birds and biodiversity, I feel I have earned my life and somehow been successful in becoming a useful resource to my State and country,” Nosang believes.

Today, Nosang Limboo is recognized as the “Butterfly Man of Sikkim”.