Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

For immediate release
May 12, 2004

Conservation Groups Move To Protect Seven Imperiled Swallowtail Butterflies
on Three Continents. Lawsuit intended to spur government into action

Contacts: Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity; 707-986-7805
Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces Society; 503-449-3792

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Center for Biological Diversity and the Xerces Society today filed a lawsuit (available here) in Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon, to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect seven swallowtail butterfly species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On January 10, 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) received a petition from a member of the Center for Biological Diversity to list seven foreign swallowtail butterfly species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. On May 10, 1994, the FWS made a ninety-day finding and announced:
“ The petition to add seven kinds of foreign butterflies to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife has presented substantial information indicating that the action may be warranted. A status review of these butterflies, together with 20 others that may be of similar concern, is initiated….”
Despite the fact that the ESA mandates that the FWS act to determine if these species are indeed endangered within twelve months of the ninety-day finding, it has been ten years since FWS initiated the process.

“It’s been more than a decade since the petition was filed on these species and no action has been taken,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society. “Many of these butterflies are prized by collectors and command high prices on the open market. We must protect these spectacular butterflies before it is too late.”

Protection of these butterflies under the ESA will put in place regulations that will not allow the import of specimens into the United States and may help spread awareness about the plight of these butterflies and lead to conservation activities within their home countries.

“We must intensify the efforts to protect these magnificent butterfly species,” said Peter Galvin, Conservation Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “They are rare treasures of the world.”

The Harris’ Mimic Swallowtail (Eurytides lysithous harrisianus) has been eliminated by habitat destruction from all but one known site in southeastern Brazil, which itself is now threatened by development.

The Fluminense Swallowtail (Parides ascanius) is jeopardized by the drainage and development of its subcoastal swamp habitat near Rio de Janeiro.

The Hahnel’s Amazonian Swallowtail (Parides hahneli) is restricted to a few areas of sandy riverbank along tributaries of the Amazon in central Brazil and may be threatened by over collection.

The Jamaican kite (Eurytides marcellinus) is threatened with extinction due to its limited range, restricted distribution of its food plant, and intense agricultural development near Kingston, Jamaica.

Southern tailed birdwing (Troides [Ornithoptera] meridionalis) is endangered by the logging of its natural habitat and the uncontrolled development of plantations in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Oaxacan Swallowtail (Papilio esperanza) is one of Mexico’s rarest butterflies. It is known only from one site in the cloud forest of Oaxaca, Mexico, and is vulnerable to over collection.

The Kaiser-I-Hind (Teinopalpus imperialis imperatrix) is a very rare, stunning swallowtail known from Nepal to southern Myanmar. It is threatened by over collecting and rapid destruction of the high elevation forests upon which it depends.


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