Guwahati: The sighting of the moth Amana angulifera after 150 years in Talle Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh was a memorable moment for mechanical engineer Aniruddha Singhamahapatra.

The moth was first sighted in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya 150 years back.

Aniruddha was assisted by Subhajit Roy in the field and they both co-authored a study which has been published in the Cuadernos de Biodiversidad journal.

Singhamahapatra captured a photograph of the moth on September 25, 2018, at 8:36 am during a heavy downpour. He stumbled upon the moth while searching for butterflies during an impromptu field trip.

“It was the best feeling to know that the moth had been rediscovered after over a century,” said Aniruddha to EastMojo, who is passionate about exploring new places, flora, and fauna. He takes advantage of his holidays to visit the Northeast region, a hotbed of biodiversity.

The authors later identified the moth with the assistance of available literature. It was found resting on a fern in the Pange Range of the sanctuary, approximately 2 km north of the Pange anti-poaching camp, along the dirt road leading to the Talle valley.

The area was primarily characterized by dense pine forests, covering the gentle slopes that lead down to the Pange River.

According to the study, “Observations of this species are extremely rare, and this current sighting represents the second record from India in over 100 years, with the first recorded sighting in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.”

The observation has been verified through peer review and posted in the citizen science repository Moths of India (Anonymous, 2022). Despite Sondhi et al. (2021) conducting a comprehensive survey of the moth fauna in the Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, this species still managed to evade their detection.

Photo by Aniruddha Singhamahapatra

“Despite the fact that both the study area and the Northeastern region of India, as well as the family of moths, are greatly understudied, the rarity of the occurrence of Amana angulifera is significant enough to warrant attention for conservation purposes. Unauthorized and reckless collection of specimens of such rare species could pose a threat to the population. Additionally, the Eastern Himalayan region is facing challenges from climate change,” the study states.

Aniruddha emphasizes the need for further exploration, as the host plant for this particular moth remains unknown. The authors express their gratitude to Mrs Koj Rinya, the former divisional forest officer of the Hapoli forest division, for granting permission to explore Talle wildlife sanctuary and to Dr Roger Kendrick, Purnendu Roy, and Dr Shen-Horn Yen for confirming the species identification.

The study recommends additional research on the moth in the region to fill in sampling gaps and better understand its life cycle, population trends, abundance, phenological responses, and interactions with plants. This information will be crucial in developing proper conservation measures.

The study concludes by stating, “A comprehensive survey must be conducted to fully understand its distribution and life cycle in order to assess its population trends, abundance, biogeography, interactions with plants, phenological responses, and establish a proper conservation strategy for this species.”

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