Malabar Banded Peacock

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Papilio Buddha

By Prerna Singh Bindra

BEST SEEN AT: Western Ghats, mainly from South Goa to North Kerala 
STATUS:
 Rare/Schedule II* 
GOOD TO KNOW:
 It was ranked the third most beautiful butterfly in India

THIS BUTTERFLY MIGHT not be the rarest of them all, but is ranked amongst the most dazzling in the world. Some butterflies like the Kaiser-e-hind and Bhutan Glory are so rare that even photographs are almost impossible to procure, unless one makes do with those of dead specimens. This butterfly belongs to the Swallowtail family, the most spectacular group of butterflies. The Malabar Banded Peacock is active during the monsoons and just after, though is difficult to observe since it flies swiftly among treetops. The male butterflies are known to engage in hill-topping, which essentially means flying along hill-tops dizzyingly in search of female butterflies. Their brilliant colouring serves as a natural defence, as these colours are associated with high toxins, that warn off predators. Beauty takes a heavy toll because they are highly sought after by private collectors. Butterflies have specific habitat requirements that include food plant densities and microclimates. Climate change, the thinning of forests coupled with the larger threat of habitat loss makes conditions less than ideal.

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