Collections through Cake: Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing

Dom, our Digital Media Manager, was inspired to re-create this beautiful butterfly from our Natural Science Collections, as part of the ever expanding Collections through Cake (#MusCake) curatorial activity here in Leeds (browse the blog for our other endeavours).
This Rajah Brookes Birdwing is from the Customs Collection. Objects from it are the property of HM Revenue & Customs, but are under our guardianship, so that Leeds Museums can use the confiscated objects for educational purposes. (To find out more about what crosses the borders, visit Mersey Maritime Museum, which houses the Border Force National Museum.) This butterfly is native to the rain forests of the Thai-Malay peninsula and other Indonesian islands.
The Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing was named in 1855 by the naturalist Alfred Wallace, after James Brooke, the Rajah of Sarawak. It is the male who has the beautiful iridescent wings. The female is equally beautiful with wings in a range of olives and browns. It is the national butterfly of Malaysia. The butterflies gather in groups of up to eighty individuals to drink from puddles. The butterflies are threatened by habitat loss.
Luckily this chocolate version, was only threatened by Tuesday cake desire. Unfortunately, the cake is now extinct. Hopefully protection by CITES will halt the decline in numbers of these beautiful, charming arthropods.

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