CHENNAI: If all goes as planned, we might have the orange oakleaf or the yellow gorgon join the ranks of the Bengal tiger and the Indian peafowl by the end of October. Not in the wild, but immortalised by the rank of the national symbol — one for the butterfly. Thanks to the effort of 50 butterfly etymologists and enthusiasts who came together to propose the idea.
“Butterflies are often considered an inspiration for various forms of art, fashion and eastern culture. Hence, the protection and conservation of this wonderful creature is extremely essential. We butterfly enthusiasts strongly feel that this blissful creature should get national representation.
With this strong and honest intent, several of us came together during the lockdown for a few rounds of discussion and have listed down the criteria for nominating a national butterfly for India,” says Divakar Thombre, naturalist, author and one among the 50 people who have narrowed down the search from the country’s 1,312 species to seven.
Now, it is up to the general public to choose the one. “Our national animal, bird, flower and tree have been chosen by our government. It hasn’t been a fair representation of the people’s choice. We wanted our national butterfly to be chosen by the public and hence opened the choice to them,” says Divakar. The initiative of a core team of 14 butterfly enthusiasts, including Krushnamegh Kunte and Isaac Kehimkar, will send the top three from the poll as options to the Central government.
- The butterfly should have cultural, ecological and conservational significance for the nation, as well as internationally.
- The butterfly should be charismatic.
- The butterfly should have an inherently attractive biological aspect that is engaging to the public.
- The butterfly should be easily identified, observed and remembered.
- The species should not have multiple forms.
- The butterfly caterpillars should not be harmful or a pest.
- The butterfly should not be too commonplace.
- Avoid species that are already designated as a State Butterfly.