Putali Baje who grew grey-haired studying butterflies in Nepal

- SHIVA SHARMA, KASKI
Putali Baje who grew grey-haired studying butterflies in Nepal

Jul 7, 2011-

British national Colin Philip Smith has dedicated 45 years of his life to studying butterflies in Nepal. Today, at the age of 75, he has the same curiosity and zeal in his work that he had when he first started.

Over the years, Smith travelled across 40 districts of Nepal and collected 25,000 butterflies. He remembers visiting many parts of the country on foot as motor transport was not available then.

Many butterflies that he collected from different parts of Nepal are displayed at the Natural History Museum in Swoyambu, Kathmandu; the Annapurna Butterfly Museum at Prithvi Narayan Campus in Pokhara; the Kathmanu University in Dhulikhel and a museum in the UK.

In the first seven years of his stay in Nepal, he worked as a teacher in Pokhara, Gorkha and Kathmandu. During his teaching foray in Gorkha, Smith remembers teaching science to who now are UCPN (Maoist) Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai and renowned neurologist Dr Upendra Devkota in the ninth grade.

“I quit teaching because I wanted to study the butterflies, which have always fascinated me,” said Smith.

His initial goal, he said, was to collect all the 6,060 species of butterflies found in Nepal. But, in the past five years, Smith has shelved the plan and turned to capturing different species of butterflies in his digital camera. Many species are on the verge of extinction and they need to be conserved, he says.

The 38 books that Smith published on butterflies in Nepal are testament to his indefatigable spirit and love for work. The first book he published in 1989 is titled ‘Butterflies of Nepal in Central Himalaya’, while his latest work is called ‘Butterflies of Nepal in Natural Environment’.

Smith said that his interest in the collection and study of butterflies has earned him the name ‘Putali Baje’, which in Nepali translates to ‘butterfly grandpa’, the name Smith is proud of.

“I love what I do and I shall continue my stay in Nepal to study the butterflies,” he said.

Published: 08-07-2011 08:50

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