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With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

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Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
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..... Author unknown.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rajah Brooke Birdwing, The National Butterfly of Malaysia - PBF P4

Male Rajah Brooke Birdwing (Trogonptera brookiana albescens)

At the Penang Butterfly Farm, I was very lucky to view and photograph this magnificient beauty. The Rajah Brooke Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana albescens) was discovered in 1855 by Alfred R. Wallace. He named it after Sir James Brooke (1803-1868) who was the first white Rajah of Sarawak. Sarawak is a state in Malaysia located in the island of Borneo.

The Rajah Brooke birdwing is the national butterfly of Malaysia.

This gorgeous red-head has been nicknamed, the 'Prince/Princess' of butterflies. Their wing span is about 15-17 cm or 5-7 inches. They are found mainly in the tropical rainforests of the Thai-Malay Peninsular, Borneo, the Natuna archipelago and also Sumatra.

Male butterflies have velvety black wings characterised by 7 tooth shaped electric green markings which make them look very elegant. The one in the picture above is perched on a yellow mussaenda flava plant.

Female Rajah Brooke Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana albescens)

The wings of the female birdwings are browner and there are prominent white flashes at the tips of the forewings and base of the hindwings.

Rajah Brooke Birdwing, The National Butterfly of Malaysia - PBF P4”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on March 8th, 2011.

Underside of male Rajah Brooke Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana albescens)

Sightings of these butterflies are rare and we can only find them at butterfly farms and certain protected areas. The Rajah Brooke Birdwing is listed as an endangered species under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It is also protected under our country's Protection of Wild Life Act 1972.

It was reported here in January 2010 that the removal of a historical pipeline in Gopeng for scrap metal have destroyed the largest site for Rajah Brooke birdwings in Ulu Geroh. Ulu Geroh is located in Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve and it is a major tourist attraction for viewing these butterflies in their natural habitat. The group of butterflies that congregate here may number as many as 100! In the past, the harvesting of this butterfly for sale as preserved specimens, gifts and souvenirs have led to declining populations. Our government is educating the local villagers around the area to act as stewards in looking after the butterflies and make a living from eco-tourism instead of catching them for sale.

I think that with the wonderful invention of the digital camera, many of us can take photos/videos for rememberance, thereby waiving the need for catching them alive and harming them in the process.

These butterflies feed on nectar from flowers of certain plants such as the bauhinia, mussaenda, ixora and lantana. Newly emerged males need to get potassium and sodium minerals to activate adult behaviour, hence the male butterflies will gather in a large group to sip nutrients from wet soil or mud puddles.

The above video, sourced from YouTube, shows a congregatory of male Rajah Brooke birdwings exhibiting their unique 'mud-puddling' behaviour . For more information, you can also visit the following sites:
  1. Learn About Butterflies Site by Adrian Hoskins, here
  2. The Star Online report, here.
  3. The Malaysian Nature Society article, here.
While I am not an activist, environmentalist, scientist or conservationist, I do hope that you will get to know more about this national treasure of ours afer reading my post. Their numbers are fast declining due to specimen collection and destruction of their habitats by deforestation and rapid development. We can also do our little part by not catching or harming them so that the butterflies will be prevented from extinction. Let our future generations enjoy the privilege of seeing them alive, fluttering and swirling around. What an unforgetable experience it shall be.

Specimen picture of male and female Rajah Brook Birdwing from Wikipedia

Question: What's the difference between the first 3 pictures and this one?

Answer: The last picture are dead specimens. If the butterfly becomes extinct, our future generations will not get to see the Rajah soaring to new heights but rather with their wings pinned up!

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry." ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732.
"Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us." ~Henrik Tikkanen

Do you have a rare/protect/endangered species of butterfly in your country and which one is it?

And to all the ladies out there,

This is my entry for My World Tuesday, the link is here.
My grateful thanks to Mr Andy Loke, staff of Penang Butterfly Farm for explaining to me the differences between the pictures of a live, resting birdwing and that of a dead specimen.


  1. If you are able to find a new species, it will be named after you too.

  2. Motyli pan ładniejszy od motylej pani, nie podoba mi sie to. Ale tak to już jest. Pozdrawiam

  3. Love Butterflies! We've had some early yellow ones, soon time for Swallowtails. Yours are beautiful.

  4. Hi Autumn Belle! Although both genders are beautiful, I like the color and pattern of the female more engaging.

    I'm sorry to hear about the destruction of Ulu Geroh. I hope there are other sites where these national treasures find a safe haven.

  5. Nice informative post on this butterfly.
    Thank you for the IWD wishes, Wish you the same. :)

  6. Such a lovely butterfly! It is really a Rajah among butterflies.

  7. Hi Autumn Belle, it is very beautiful, we dont have a national butterfly here, maybe it's time that we name one! I suggest that we name Troides magellanus as ours, it is also big with yellow markings, and also a swallowtail almost like the T helena. The one i saw at KL BF looks different from that one, maybe because it has extended wings and the green marks look like a modified boomerang, as i told you earlier. I will look for my old photo and compare again.

  8. They are indeed looking regal like Rajahs but prefer the more attractive colourings of the female with the electric blue and white markings!

  9. Rainfield may not have noticed that all butterflies have your name printed on them. Beautiful captures.

  10. Beautiful shots of the butterflies! Have not been to the butterfly farm yet! Thanks for sharing the video, have not seen a single specie grouped together before!

  11. A beautiful butterfly, the green colour perhaps serve for camuflage but also add to it's beauty :)

  12. This is one of my favourite butterflies. Thank you for your prayers.

  13. Wow...these are fantastic shots!! They are indeed beautiful. I don't even know if we have a national butterfly. We do see the birdwings in the city's outskirts. However I haven't managed to get a shot like yours. Loved them all!!

  14. Beautiful - butterflies and photos! Happy Woman's Day!

  15. Wow - magical butterfly photos! Astounding.

  16. I love the photos of the Rajah Brooke Birdwing. Thank you for sharing this with us. xxx

  17. I'm very impressed both with the butterflies and the one who took the time to take their pictures so t we can all enjoy them. :)

  18. Stunning photos of your gorgeous National butterfly Autumn Belle! Happy International Woman's Day (yesterday)!

  19. Rainfield, if I can find a new species to name after me? I can only dream, dream, dream…

    Giga, from my google translation, you mean that Mr butterfly is prettier than Ms butterfly but you do not like it.

    Nell Jean, I have some yellow ones in my garden too, but the lime butterflies are the most common.

    Bom, the other natural areas where we can find them are probably the forest reserves but illegal logging by humans will always pose a problem.

    J Bar, Indrani, Ladyfi, welcome to My Nice Garden!

    Lotusleaf, you just said what’s in my mind. I too think they are ‘King’.

    Andrea, I googled Troides megellanus and saw the image of a big butterfly with striking black and yellow colours. Wow! It is beautiful! Magellanus reminds me of a Ferdinand Magellan I studied about in history class. The Rajah Brooke birdwing looks like a boomerang when it is flying and mud-puddling.

    P3chandan, oh you like the female too. I like their red head and figure of 8 abdomens.

    One, you know, I have to watermark my name in all the photos because I have been hit by thieves pirating my posts contents and pictures.

    Kitchen flavours, lets go to Ulu Geroh for a picnic by the waterfall!

    Mia, so good to see you here. The shape and pattern of its wings also makes me think of the American red Indians and apaches.
    Diana, so glad Rayyan is better.

    Bangchik, yes, it looks like a wau.

    Kanak, it is only inside the environment of a butterfly farm that I can get such shots with my point and shoot camera.

    Asha, Happy Woman’s Day to you too!

    Christine, thank you for your nice comments.

    Helen Lewis, thank you very much for the sweet words. It was so kind of you.

    Carol, yes, empowerment for all women around the world!

  20. We have the Brenton Blue, which has a dedicated reserve. This was a fascinating post. Have you ever seen your national butterfly in the wild?

  21. I get it, it looks like a bird when it flies! Very nice bright color!

  22. You can see more pictures on butterflies and other insects in my blog under insect label. Its quiet amazing to found all this insects, just in my small garden.

  23. I photographed Raja Brooks birdwinged winged butterfly on holiday in Kota Kinanabalu. I'm disabled and a wheel chair user
    I am so proud of the sgot


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