About Bring Back The Endangered Yellow Birdwings

Objective

The objective of this project is to conserve the Yellow Birdwing in Penang by the reintroduction of this butterfly and planting of its host plant, the Aristolochia tagala in the viable localities within Penang state.

Project Summary

The Yellow Birdwing (Troides helena) is a protected species in Malaysia under the Malaysian Wildlife & National Parks Departments and is listed under Appendix II of CITES (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species). It is a protected butterfly species because activities such as unregulated collection from the wild and habitat depletion via rapid development are taking place. While the butterfly is being protected, its population in the wild has been dwindling for the past 30 years, especially in Penang, where in the past, we used to be able to see them so often. But today, rarely one Yellow Birdwing can be seen in most parts of the island except at the Penang Butterfly Farm, where we consistently breed them for exhibition and partly for releasing them back to the wild.

The Yellow Birdwing caterpillars feed only on a specific plant which is Aristolochia tagala, a wild jungle climber. Today, this plant is rarely found on the Penang island and therefore you won't normally see any of these beautiful birdwing butterflies, which used to be called The Common Birdwing, but now not common anymore. Planting back their host plants will actually help increase their population and therefore, with so much of deforestation going on, this is the best way to keep this vulnerable species continue living on our island. Unfortunately, without enough awareness, education and conservation in particular, these yellow birdwings may completely disappear from Penang one day as deforestation, habitat destruction and global warming continue.

Schools and educational institutions can play an important role in conserving our local butterflies, by continuously instilling nature awareness into the students. Practical and living examples of the life histories of butterflies can help facilitate students in the learning of life science, as well as science teachers who can make use of real butterflies as an educational tool. Students who are exposed to the cultivating and breeding of butterflies will have a chance to be able to see the importance of appreciating life and conserving nature.