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960 butterfly species in Borneo
Published on: Thursday, June 20, 2024
By: Kan Yaw Chong
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960 butterfly species in Borneo
From left: Chung, Fred Kugan, Tan Chan, Datin Chan and Dr Bosuang at the launching of the book.
Kota Kinabalu: Living purely by instincts, the remarkable beauty and diversity of butterflies of Sabah and Borneo deliver a barrage of profound ecological virtues that everybody should be grateful for, said Tan Jiew Hoe, Board Director of world-renowned Gardens by the Bay Singapore and Singapore Gardening Society at the book launch of  the 484-page ‘A Guide to the Butterflies of Borneo’ at the Kinabalu Hyatt Kinabalu Regency Wednesday morning.            

“It is a privilege to gather here today for the momentous launch of A Guide to Butterflies of Borneo, a masterpiece crafted by the distinguished authors Dr Arthur YC Chung, Head of Forest Research Centre Sepilok, Dr Steven Bosuang of Kipandi Park, publisher Datuk CL Chan and Teo Thiam Peng from Singapore,” Tan said. 

Credited for financing the five-year project without which it would not have been possible, he continued: “This comprehensive work marks a significant milestone in butterfly studies, offering a definitive reference for exploring the enchanting world of Borneo’s butterflies.”

“With 448 pages filled with insightful content and stunning photographs, this book stands as a beacon of knowledge, illuminating the intricate beauty and diversity of these winged wonders in Borneo,” he said. 

“As we immerse ourselves in the pages of this guide, we not only uncover the mysteries of butterflies but also deepen our appreciation for their crucial role within our ecosystem.”

“Butterflies, as pollinators, play a pivotal role in plant reproduction by facilitating the transfer of pollen between flowers,” Tan said.  

“This essential function supports the production of fruits, seeds, and nectar, fostering ecosystem diversity and stability,” he said. 

“Their delicate dance among flowers ensures the continuity of plant species, underscoring their significance in sustaining biodiversity and the interconnected web of life.

“By understanding and conserving these magnificent creatures, we uphold the delicate balance of nature that unites us all,” noted Tan who also launched the guide book, hailed the “unwavering dedication and expertise an invaluable resource to fruition.” 

Tan said the presence of Chief Conservator of Forests, Datuk Fred Kugan, also dignified the occasion dedicated to the preservation of natural heritage.  

Meanwhile, lead author, Dr. Arthur Chung attributed the “masterpiece” to the “passion, hard work, commitment and great teamwork” between Tan, CL Chan, eminent butterfly experts, Dr Steven Bosuang and Singaporean Teo Thiam Peng as without which a publication of its quality and standard could not have been accomplished.

He also credited a large assemblage of 50 photographers who contributed  their excellent photos to turn out a “striking publication”.

Special recognition was extended to Joe Pan, Jimmy Lin,  Ronald Asuncion, Linus Gokusing,  Jamium  Michael, Dr Liaw Yun Haw, Ammelia Chong, Joe Justin, Murshy Ng, Amos Fung, Ann Hii, Chien Lee from Sarawak and Honyrol Ahmand Sah from Brunei.   

“Butterflies are graceful jewels that are glamorous and naturally captivating to everyone since time immemorial,” he said.

“It has been estimated that there are some 20,000 species of butterflies in the world of which 960 species are in Borneo and 81 of them are endemic to Borneo.” 

Chung later presented and  narrated a jaw dropping slide show on the wonders and beauty of a selection of  top butterflies featured in the guide book.  

Highlighted in the book are the flagship butterflies  such as the newly designated Sabah State butterfly – the Kinabalu Birdwing (Troides andromanche), the national butterfly Rajah Brooke Birdwing (Trogonptera brookiana) and all other birdwing butterflies native to Borneo. 

It was the “collaborative efforts” of the late Dr Stephen Sutton, stakeholders and the State Government that the Kinabalu Birdwing Butterfly  (Troides Andromache) was officially declared  the State Butterfly,  Chan said.  

“One standard feature that distinguishes this guide from others is the inclusion of photographs displaying both male and female specimens, showcasing the upper and undersides of their wings,” he pointed out.

“This inclusion is crucial for individuals using the book  to accurately identify different species,” he argued.   

Chan said the ever present ‘interest and support’ from Rotarians of Kota Kinabalu Rotary Club, James Quek, Lawrence Thien, Philip Koh and Paul Foronda, were keenly felt.   

“Additionally, heartfelt appreciation goes out to the entomologists from Japan and France for their valuable contribution of specimen of rare species which brought diverse perspective and insights  to the content of the book,” Chan said. 

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