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Kinabalu Birdwing – state butterfly
Published on: Tuesday, October 03, 2023
By: Wu Vui Tek
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Kinabalu Birdwing – state butterfly
Liew (left) greeting Dr Stephen at the official unveiling of Kinabalu Birdwing as state butterfly of Sabah.
Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Government has officially declared the Kinabalu Birdwing as the state butterfly. 

This declaration, made on Sept 13, adds a new tourism icon to enhance the conservation and promotion of the State’s rich biodiversity, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew. 

The Kinabalu Birdwing, locally known as Kalibambang Emas, gets its name from local ethnic language, signifying a large and brightly coloured butterfly. 

Dr Stephen Sutton, the leading researcher on this project, has confirmed its exquisite and rare nature, she said.

Kinabalu Birdwing male (small) and female (big).

“It is seldom encountered and challenging to capture,” said Liew during the official unveiling of the Kinabalu Birdwing (scientifically known as Triodes andromache) at a hotel.

Regrettably, habitat destruction has led to its classification as vulnerable to extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. 

It is categorised as a protected animal under Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997, said Liew.

Nominating this species for recognition will not only help protect it but also draw attention to broader efforts to conserve biodiversity in Sabah. 

“Safeguarding this butterfly will indirectly contribute to the preservation of its habitat,” she added.

Liew also emphasised the importance of educating rural communities about the butterfly’s value, not only for tourism but also future generations.

She proposed featuring the butterfly on Malaysian stamps, particularly for first-day cover, to showcase the State’s unique butterfly species.

This distinctive and endemic butterfly species resides in the montane regions of Mount Kinabalu and Crocker Range. 

Since its discovery around 1892, it has remained elusive due to its habitat at elevations between 1,000 and 2,000 feet above sea level.

Entomologists, especially those from abroad, have been intrigued by this birdwing species for over two centuries.

This large butterfly boasts a wingspan of about 50mm to 70mm. 

Males display a combination of black, yellow and green hues, while females feature additional brown and white patterns on their wings.

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