Butterflies of the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, northeastern India: their diversity and conservation

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K. Kunte
S. Sondhi
B.M. Sangma
R. Lovalekar
K. Tokekar
G. Agavekar

Abstract

The Garo Hills of Meghalaya, northeastern India, form the westernmost boundary of the globally recognized Indo-Myanmar Biodiversity Hotspot. The butterfly fauna of the Garo Hills is expected to be diverse, but it has not been properly sampled before. We surveyed butterflies in Balpakram National Park, Baghmara Reserve Forest and Siju Wildlife Sanctuary in southern Garo Hills, and Nokrek National Park in Western Garo Hills during four visits amounting to 49 days spread over two seasons, pre-monsoon (April-May) and post-monsoon (November-December), between 2008 and 2010. Here we report 298 butterfly species for the Garo Hills, eight of which are legally protected under Schedule I and 33 under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Our species accumulation curve suggests that many species remain to be discovered in the Garo Hills, and we expect the total species richness to be closer to 600-650 species. Little quantitative information exists on populations and seasonal occurrence of butterflies in India. Therefore, we recorded the number of individuals of each species in one or three hour counts during our surveys, and here we report season-wise relative abundances of 298 species from 3,736 individuals. We also report significant range extensions of two Schedule I species: Elymnias peali and Prothoe franck regalis, from the Garo Hills. These findings underscore the significance of the Garo Hills for butterfly conservation in India, and our work forms a baseline for future quantitative work on the diversity and conservation of butterflies in this biodiversity hotspot.

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How to Cite
[1]
Kunte, K., Sondhi, S., Sangma, B., Lovalekar, R., Tokekar, K. and Agavekar, G. 2012. Butterflies of the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, northeastern India: their diversity and conservation. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 4, 10 (Sep. 2012), 2933–2992. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2945.2933-92.
Section
Communications
Author Biographies

K. Kunte

Krushnamegh Kunte, PhD, is a Reader and Ramanujan Fellow at the National Center for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, India. He is interested in studying the organization and evolution of biodiversity especially in the Indian Region, with a special focus on the ecology, evolution and genetics of morphological diversification and speciation in butterflies. Lab website: http://biodiversitylab.org.

S. Sondhi

Sanjay Sondhi is a Dehradun-based naturalist with an interest in nature conservation and environment protection. He is mainly interested in birds, butterflies and herpetofauna, and is the author of several books on these animals. His work includes faunal surveys, conservation education, protected areas management plans, and man-animal conflicts, and his special interests are writing and photography.

B.M. Sangma

Bensen M. Sangma is a native Garo who worked with Samrakshan Trust for many years to map the human-dominated forest mosaics in the Garo Hills and to survey elephant populations in this landscape. Now he oversees the nature- and tribal people-oriented eco-tourism initiatives in the Gongrot area with Samrakshan Trust.

R. Lovalekar

Rohan Lovalekar is a Chiplun(Maharashtra)-based naturalist working in the banking sector. He spends his spare time surveying and monitoring butterflies in the northern Western Ghats. He has especially been studying the species richness and seasonal occurrences, and swarming and migratory behaviors of various butterflies. He also volunteers for the local nature-related NGO, Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra.

K. Tokekar

Kedar Tokekar is a Pune(Maharashtra)-based naturalist who has traveled extensively in the Western and Eastern Himalaya to document species diversity of these biodiversity hotspots.

G. Agavekar

Gaurav Agavekar is a Project Trainee at the National Center for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, India. His special interests include genetics, butterflies, natural history, and photography.

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