Rare butterfly species spotted in Sikkim for first time

Gangtok, 20 July:

One of the members of Butterflies & Moths of Sikkim - Nature Conservation Society [BAMOS-NCS], Tenzing W Bhutia, who is also a Block Officer at Khangchendzonga National Park [KNP], has discovered a rare butterfly species named Mackinnon’s Silverspot Kuekenthaliella mackinnonii in the State of Sikkim and has recorded its first photograph here.

Mackinnon’s Silverspot butterfly was till now known to occur in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Nepal and Central Nepal but had not been recorded from Sikkim so far.

Mr Bhutia recorded the rare species on 16 Jul in North Sikkim at an elevation of 16,000 ft. The species is named after PW Mackinnon by Charles Lionel Augustus de Nicéville in 1891 who collected the species in Himachal Pradesh at 11,000 feet.

WH Evans [1932] previously treated the species of the butterfly as ‘rare’. The species has not been photographed in India or in Nepal in recent date. There has been no information on the species since 1932. This record by Mr Bhutia can therefore be treated as a rediscovery of the species after more than 90 years and also a new record of the species for the State of Sikkim.

Mr Bhutia informs that the photograph recorded by him is that of a female Mackinnon’s Silverspot. However, more field research is needed to look for the male of Mackinnon’s Silverspot which also needs to be photographed, he adds.

He has further extended gratitude to butterfly experts, Peter Smetacek, Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi and Nawang G Bhutia, for help with its identification.