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Bhutan Butterfly Tour


In accordance with the Bhutan Forest and Nature Conservation Rules, 1995, killing, trapping or collection of wildlife samples is strictly prohibited. Visitors wishing to photograph in the national parks and nature reserves are required to obtain prior written authorization from the Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture.


Ludlows Bhutan Swallowtail (Bhutanitis ludlowi) was first discovered in 1933-34 by the famous English naturalist Frank Ludlow. While unproven claims have been made that this species also exists in Yunnan, China, it is generally accepted that the butterfly is endemic to Tobrang areas of Trashiyangtse, Eastern Bhutan.

After a gap of seventy-seven years, this extremely rare butterfly was rediscovered on 28th August, 2009, by Mr. Karma Wangdi of Kheng Zurphey, a Bhutanese Forester who was than working with the Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary. He is currently working with the Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), Bumthang.

Bhutans National Butterfly (Ludlows Bhutan Swallowtail (Bhutanitis ludlowi)


Bhutan ranks in the top 10% of countries with the highest species density in the world. It has been designated as one of the ten biodiversity hotspots and lies at the centre of the worlds 221 Global Endemic Bird Areas. Bhutans vast biodiversity and ecosystem is host to over 700 bird species of which 22 are globally threatened.

In addition to a huge variety of plant and bird species, Bhutan is also rich in butterflies. It is said that Bhutan has as many as 800 to 900 butterfly and moth species, out of which, 28 are endemic to the Eastern Himalayas. By comparison, the whole of North America has 679 species and Europe only 440 species.

In the national language – Dzongkha, butterflies are called Chimla. Bhutans incredible altitudinal range – from sub-tropical to alpine – seems ideal for the proliferation of a large variety of plant and animal life. Incredible variety of butterflies can be found at varying altitudes – from the sub-tropical in the south to the alpine in the north. Although they can be found even at elevations above 5,000 M in the frigid alpine regions, the largest concentration of butterflies is in the sub-tropical zones of the south and south-central parts of the country. A partial list of butterflies found in Bhutan is attached at the end of this brochure.


In Bhutan, butterflies are found abundantly during the months of July to October.


The main butterfly habitats in Bhutan are: Grasslands, evergreen oak forests, agricultural fields, conifer forests.

Where to look for them

On treetops, undergrowths, forest edges, rivers and creeks.

Prime Butterfly Areas

Some of the prime butterfly areas in the country are:

  • Trongsa Dzongkhag
  • Zhemgang Dzongkhag
  • Mongar Dzongkhag
  • Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag
  • Trashigang Dzongkhag
  • Pemagatshel Dzongkhag

For the lovers of these Lepidopterans, all local tour operators can organize butterfly-specific tours to all of the above butterfly rich areas. Depending on the area of choice, a typical tour itinerary would follow the routes and duration described in the following pages.

Bhutan, however, is not only about butterflies. As your tour takes you deeper and deeper into the remote villages and hamlets that remain largely unaffected by modernity, you will notice human dwellings and architecture that is unique to Bhutan. En-route, you will see some of the country’s most awe-inspiring fortresses (Dzongs) whose construction date back to few centuries. Within the walls of these imposing Dzongs are held the annual religious/cultural festivals known as Tsechu. This is the time when people of all walks of life dress in their best finery and gather to observe the colorful mask dances performed by the monks and the laity. It is also an occasion when family and relatives travel great distances to congregate at the festival grounds to renew old ties and forge new ones.

The lush green forests that cover over 70% of the countrys land mass is host to some of the most exotic animal and plant lives found anywhere else in the world. It is not uncommon for visitors to sight the rarest of the rare herons known as the White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) whose global population is estimated at less than 200 individuals. Your itinerary will take you to habitats of such rare birds as the Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra), Himalayan Modal (Lophophorus impejanus), Beautiful Nuthatch (Sitta formosa), Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) etc.

Further south, the butterfly habitat overlap those of the Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis), another endangered bird species. Another rarity that is endemic to the southern foothills in the Mangdechu areas is the rare and unique Gee’s Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei).

If ever you should suffer butterfly-fatigue, simply turn around and walk into the forests. For all you know, you may end up discovering a new species of orchid, after all, Bhutan at more than 500 species, ranks among the top countries with the richest stock of orchid variety.

(Bhutan Jewel Travel)

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