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The Butterflies of Sikkim Himalaya and their Natural History

Meena Haribal (Author)
Synopsis Although only a small Indian state (some 7,300 sq.km), the physical diversity of Sikkim, and its position astride the border between the Palaearctic and oriental regions, ensures a significantly diversified butterfly fauna. The total number of known species, approaching 700, is comparable with that of neighbouring Nepal, a country some 20 times greater in area. All told, about half the total number of species recorded from the Indian subcontinent occur in Sikkim. Some species, such as Teinopalpus imperialis and Meandrusa gyas, already enjoy protected status. But protection from collectors will count for nothing if pressure from agriculture and forestry overwhelm natural habitats. As a highly visible invertebrate group, butterflies are ideal for field studies, their various ecological requirements making them excellent indicators of environmental change. But first, it is necessary to have a base line from which to know the local butterfly fauna. Historically, no country is better served by its Lepidopterological literature than is India. The Colonial Britisher belonged to a curious breed. Wherever he set foot in the world his imagination was captured by the local butterfly fauna, a propensity that was not so evident in any of his German, Dutch, French or Spanish counterparts. And India was no exception. Why then, should a new treatment of the Sikkim butterfly fauna be so opportune and welcome? Of course, earlier works are now outdated as ideas on classification and species concepts have been modified. But more importantly, with biodiversity and conservation having moved from the confines of obscure journals and learned societies into the main political sphere, there is an immediate need for a readily available authoritative study. Meena Haribal has here collated known information on Sikkim's butterflies, adding to it a wealth of personal observations. We find details of life-histories, larval hosts, adult nectar sources, distribution and habitat, supplemented by more than 50 colour plates illustrating both museum specimens and the butterflies in their natural habitat. Thus it is to be welcomed not only as a work of scholarship but also as a book that takes butterflies out of collection cabinets and places them back in their environment again as living organisms. It is a volume for Academia, Government departments, local libraries and schools, bringing sharply into focus the most important local butterfly fauna on the Indian subcontinent.
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Bibliographic information

Title The Butterflies of Sikkim Himalaya and their Natural History
Author Meena Haribal
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1992
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
length 217p., Plates.