Project title: Survey and Breeding Programme for Troides andromache – The Kinabalu Birdwing.
The Kinabalu Birdwing, also known as the Borneo Birdwing (Troides andromache Staudinger 1892) is endemic to the island of Borneo. It is listed on CITES Appendix 2, and on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened. No significant conservation work is known to have been done since this species was first listed in 1985 (as Indeterminate – a status no longer in use) in Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World – The IUCN Red Data Book, by N.M. Collins and M.G. Morris (available here). Their account (with minor changes) is reproduced here.
The following video provides some key information on the species and its habits and also illustrates a remarkable new product from the project – a newly choreographed dance!
The stronghold of this large, beautiful and sexually dimorphic birdwing butterfly now appears to be along the boundary of the Mount Kinabalu National Park. There are historical reports from several lowland sites in both Sabah and Sarawak, which are yet to be verified. The species is now seemingly localized in montane areas around Gunung (Mt) Kinabalu, from where it has been recently recorded.
The foodplant of the larva has yet to be positively identified, although oviposition has been observed taking place on dead stems of Aristolochia vines.
The Swallowtail and Birdwing butterfly Trust (SBBT) and the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu have given financial support to Dr Stephen Sutton and his team to undertake a well thought-out and essential study of this near threatened butterfly. They will pursue six major objectives on the ecology of the Kinabalu Birdwing including:
- encouraging local awareness (especially for eco-tourism)
- advising on village breeding programmes
- establishing andromache as an icon of Malaysia’s national heritage.
Other national and regional institutions are also being approached for financial assistance and support in kind, and project extensions are under consideration. In due course, the Singapore Botanical Gardens have indicated that they may be able to provide training in planting and propagation of the foodplants, which will be crucial to any breeding programme.
We will report any further progress on this important project in the SBBT Papilio! newsletters. Sign up on our Home Page.
The project is now drawing to a close but we hope it will continue to go from strength to strength in years to come.