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U.S. to hold Taiwan butterfly exhibit

U.S. to hold Taiwan butterfly exhibit

A collection of 28 photos featuring Taiwan's endemic butterfly species is going on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. as part of the institution's arts festival exhibition, an official said yesterday.
The life-like butterfly images were shot by Tsai Bae-chung (蔡百峻), a local nature photographer better known as "Mr. Butterfly" as he has been tracking and photographing the beautiful creatures for 28 years.
Tsai is the first to document many of Taiwan's most elusive butterfly species, including Taiwan's magnificent broad-tailed swallowtail butterfly, or Agehana maraho. Crowned as the "kingdom of the butterfly," Taiwan is home to nearly 400 butterfly species - one of the world's largest concentrations of butterfly species.
Officials from the Forestry Bureau under the Council of Agriculture said Tsai has photographed 340 of Taiwan's some 400 endemic butterfly species, a record in Taiwan's butterfly photographing history.
The prestigious Smithsonian museum decided to display Tsai's butterfly photos after stringent screening, COA officials said, adding that Tsai is first Asian art photographer allowed to exhibit nature photos at the U.S. museum.
The COA and the non-profit Taipei-based Public Network Foundation helped organize the exhibition of Tsai's butterfly images at the Smithsonian museum slated to be held May 2-18. Tsai is also scheduled to give an illustrated lecture May 10 at the museum to share his stories of decades spent tracking and photographing Taiwan's alluring butterfly species.
Tsai said prior to his departure for the U.S. Monday for the event that he is hopeful that the exhibition will not only showcase the beauty of Taiwan's butterflies but will also help attract world attention to the Taiwan's initial success in conserving its butterfly species and natural ecology.
For tracking the wonderful butterfly species, the businessman-turned-nature photographer has sold off three luxury houses over the past two decades to cover his travel expenses, research expenses and photographic equipment costs.
"I feel no regret in terms of the money I have spent to pursue the dazzling beauty of butterflies and their multifaceted place in nature," Tsai said. "I have incurably fallen in love with these intricate creatures. I have always felt compelled to record their charming images at any cost."
In his search for some very precious butterfly species, Tsai has traveled extensively around Taiwan, mostly in remote mountainous regions.
After 10 full years of searching, Tsai finally caught sight of the broad-tailed swallowtail butterfly during a hiking trip in the Taiping Mountain region in Yilan County in 1988. To get the perfect shot of this winged wonder, Tsai recalled that he had to stand on one foot for more than half an hour and almost collapsed before getting the photograph he wanted.
Noting that he has often "danced together with butterflies" in nature, Tsai said he has always endeavored to photograph butterflies with goals in mind that go far beyond simply capturing their beauty.
"I hope my photographic works can inspire the audience to think deeply about beauty - its meaning as well as its fragility. I'm also hopeful that my works can serve as an eloquent plea for environmental awareness, with butterflies cast as a potential victim of humankind's often blind irresponsibility and overall lack of vision," he added.


Updated : 2021-07-24 06:07 GMT+08:00