Fleeting Beauties: Rare Butterflies of Southeast Asia and Beyond

Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea are home to some of the world’s most stunning endangered butterflies. Among these are varieties of birdwings and swallowtails that few people have seen in photos, let alone in the wild. Below are photos of these magnificent creatures for your eyes to feast on before they are gone forever.

The Golden Birdwing

The Golden Birdwing is distributed throughout S.E Asia, particularly Indonesia. This magnificent butterfly is classified as vulnerable and is protected by CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals from the threats of international trade.

Priam’s Birdwing

Priam’s Birdwing is found in NE Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The species was named after Priam, the king of Troy during the Trojan War. Although it is widespread, some subspecies are threatened by habitat destruction, and like all birdwing species, are protected by CITES, which restricts international trade to only those with a permit.

Wallace’s Golden Birdwing

This gorgeous yellow birdwing is a near-threatened species protected by CITES. The species is restricted to the Maluku Islands of Indonesia where they inhabit lowland swamps and wetlands.

Purple Spotted Swallowtail

This beautiful butterfly, which goes by the scientific name Graphi weiskei, is found only in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea at elevations of between 4000 and 8000 feet above sea level. The species was first described in 1900 by German entomologist, Carl Ribbe, and named in honor of Emil Weiskei, a German naturalist who traveled the world to procure specimens for his private museum in the late 1800s.

Neumoegeni Swallowtail

This swallowtail butterfly is found only in the tropical forests of Sumba Island, Indonesia. Males can be seen flying year round along paths in forest glades, while females are found high in the forest canopy. Because of their limited habitat in the wild, they have been listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 1996.

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