Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha, a naturalist and a butterfly enthusiast from Dzongu, North Sikkim

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Inspired by nature and its beauty, this young lad turned himself into a naturalist, butterfly enthusiast, and then a photographer and a writer. Born and brought up in the hills of Dzongu, North Sikkim is Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha who finds himself mostly lost in the ecstatic beauty of nature.

Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha (29) is born and brought up in the Noom-Panang village of upper Dzongu, North Sikkim. Born to parents Sherap Pintso Lepcha and Late Smit Dukmit Lepcha, Sonam completed his fundamentals from various schools of North Sikkim.

Sonam always found himself in close affinity with nature and the culture of the tribal community he belonged to, ’Lepcha’. Despite how modernity and westernization may have affected the young fraternity these days yet somehow young Sonam loved the nature and each tangible and intangible cultural traits of the Lepcha community.  He felt that he needs to treasure all of it in anyway so documenting it would be the only medium to have it inherited to all upcoming generations he believed. He would have never come up with any books if nature had not inspired him more.

Sonam has published three books so far. In the year 2011, he came up with his first book “Dzongu Nye Mayallyang, North Sikkim”. The book basically focused on the Nature Beauty of Dzongu (photography) and also short stories of his small Noom-Panang Village. In the year 2015, he came up with the 2nd edition book “The Myths of Mutanchi” Tales from Dzongu which narrates the fact stories from the different areas of Dzongu. Sonam also released his new book “The Book on Dzongu Butterflies- North Sikkim” which gives an idea of the different species of butterflies found in Dzongu region of North Sikkim.

“It is fairly recent since I began appreciating the fact that our Renjyonglyang, especially Sikkim, is truly blessed with beautiful species of butterflies known as Thamblyok in Lepcha. During my explorations, I had to acknowledge that Sikkim is indeed a paradise for butterfly enthusiasts” said Sonam while interacting with Yougan Tamang for TNT- The Northeast Today. “This has been established earlier on by individuals like Isaac Kehimkar who published a book on Indian butterflies, similarly, Meena Haribal and Nosang Muringla Limboo have also based their respective books on Sikkim butterflies” added Sonam.

Sonam journey towards an exploration of butterflies of Sikkim started when he had a short trip to Namprickdang, Dzongu, North Sikkim on 2016. He came across many species of butterflies in the valley but he failed to identify even one, which really saddened him. However, his urge to understand butterflies and inquisitiveness towards them grew more which made him turn towards documenting and photographing butterflies thereafter.

He later visited a historical place Blyokvoo near Upper Dzongu. The original name of Blyokvoo is Thamblyokvoo and as the name suggests it stands for the ‘meeting place for butterflies’. His visit in the place made him more fascinated about the butterflies and the rich cultural heritage of the Lepcha community.

Sonam believes that in future, places like Dzongu in Sikkim can prove to be important geographical habitats for promoting conservation and protection measures for various butterfly species. It will be equally potent to build awareness about these precious habitants with the help of eco-tourism and by means of informative guided tours for nature enthusiasts that are aimed at sharing and broadening the knowledge base about the species. Before such plans are implemented, it is equally vital that proper measures and stringent laws are in place to curb any illegal practices, such as trapping of butterflies; as such incidents have occurred in the past. The focus should be maintained for conservation policies.

Sonam’s decision to explore the species of butterflies never brought about any feeling of regret for him. He is passionate about nature and butterflies. In fact, he has travelled to various spots in and around Dzongu to scout for species of butterflies and further engaged in every conservation activities.

Sonam further states that all his books are published to encourage the youth of Sikkim as it has become important to appreciate and explore the natural treasures that our region holds.

Sonam finds himself very grateful to Padmashree Nukung Keepu Tshering Lepcha for forwarding his book. He is equally grateful to Namgyal Lepcha, Cultural President. Mutanchi Loam Aal Shezum, Dzongu for his support and motivation and all the people around for supporting his passion and works

 Yougan Tamang 

(yougain87@gmail.com)

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