Scientific name: Ornithoptera richmondia
When we think of conservation and icon species we almost always think of charismatic mammals such as koalas, blue whales and quolls. Very few invertebrates draw the same attention, except in the case of the Richmond Birdwing, a species of swallowtail butterfly.
Once a widespread species, for decades it's population and distribution has been shrinking. It feeds on nectar, like many butterflies, and has a special relationship with one species of vine Pararistolochia praevenos, which grows in lowland subtropical rainforest. The Birdwing's larvae are specialised and dependent on this vine's leaves for nutrition. Unfortunately the vine has been decimated through the destruction of lowland rainforest due to urban development, inappropriate fire regimes, weed invasion and farming. Consequently, viable Birdwing populations no longer exist in the greater Brisbane region.
Fortunately there has been significant work carried out by scientists and...