Rare specimen of new beetle species sent back from Japan


Rare specimen of new beetle species sent back from Japan

Research works on butterflies, other insects also returned

Kanittha Inchukul
A Japanese researcher has sent back to Thailand for the first time a specimen of a new beetle species along with research works on butterflies and other insects.

But there are still deposited in Japan specimens of 30 new species found by Sadahiro Ohmomo, including the kind sent back to Thailand.

“Those specimens must be kept as prototypes for reference. Most of them are rare species and have few specimens, so it is not possible to send back all kinds of specimens to Thailand,” Mr Ohmomo said.

The return of beetle specimens by Mr Ohmomo was the first case of success for the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec), which is trying to gather biological knowledge of the country from foreigners who have researched on Thailand’s biological resources.

Mr Ohmomo sent back a specimen of Polyctesis ohkurai, a new species of small, yellow beetle with black stripes.

Mr Ohnomo, who collects colourful beetles as a hobby, bought most of his insects from local people and souvenir shops in Chiang Mai where he found 30 new species during his 10 years in Thailand.

His Polyctesis ohkurai specimens were bought from villagers in Chiang Mai at 10 baht each, Mr Ohmomo said, adding that he had purchased about 100 beetles.

The Japanese researcher said he had encountered no legal problems taking those specimens out of Thailand because they were not live insects.

There are about 2,000-3,000 beetle species in Thailand, and Mr Ohmomo expects about 10 percent of them to be new species.

“But it is difficult to identify whether an insect is a new species because most specimens are kept out of Thailand, mostly in European countries,” he said.

Mr Ohmomo also gathered research works by Japanese researchers and took them back to Japan.

The research works already returned to Thailand are on butterflies and other insects, especially beetles, according to Wisut Baimai, chief of Biotec’s Biodiversity Research and Training Programme.

He said some 20 research works have already been published in Japan.

Mr Wisut said trading in butterflies, especially rare ones each of which could fetch thousands of baht, has caused a sharp decrease in the number of butterflies in the wild.

“Most research works on insects in Thailand are focused on pests. There are a large number of insect specimens kept at the Department of Agriculture, but there are no taxonomists to work on them,” he said.

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