The Chocolate Tiger (Danaus melaneus sinopion)
This relatively large Danainae, the Chocolate Tiger (Parantica melaneus sinopion) is common in Malaysia, particularly at higher elevations like the hill resorts at Fraser's Hill and Penang Hill. Often, they fly in the company of other Danainae, feeding on wild flowers. The Chocolate Tiger has a slow and unhurried flight but can be skittish if approached too quickly.
It was recorded from Singapore by the early authors like W.A. Fleming but has not been seen for a long time. Like many of the Danainae, the caterpillar host plant is probably one of the not uncommon lactiferous plants (probably from the Asclepiaceae family) that still grow in our forests. The wings of the Chocolate Tiger are bluish grey with the veins and wing borders coloured a dark chocolate brown. The abdomen of the butterfly is light orange-brown and prominent when it is in flight. Will it be seen back here again one day? Or will it remain only in our memories and is gone forever from Singapore?
Photos by Khew SK & Chng CK