Waterstradt's expedition to Gunung-Mount Tahan Malaya .
Before a review of John Waterstradt's explorations of the Moluccan Islands I should mention an expedition that he led to the remote mountain of Gunung -Mount Tahan in the state of Pahang on the Malay Peninsular.
After surviving an assassination attempt on his life, which happened in Brunei Borneo in a dispute over oil concessions in which he was severly wounded and lost most of the use of his right arm, Waterstradt met up with his old friend Fruhstorfer in Singapore. However by this time, Waterstradt's relationship with Fruhstorfer had become strained. Barlow mentions that Fruhstorfer had been a bad payer for Waterstradt's insects. When Fruhstorfer suggested a joint venture to Mount Tahan, Waterstradt turned him down. He would mount his own expedition to that unclimbed mountain.
Waterstradt's eight month expedition to Mount Tahan in 1902, the highest mountain in Malaya was his most arduous to date and he had great difficulty in finding the right mountain through dense jungle and high ridges. The expedition to Mount Tahan is best told in Waterstradt's own words and can be read here.
Waterstradt's article ' Kelantan and my trip to Gunong Tahan ' published in 1902 in the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society seems to be his only published work.
Surprisingly, although Waterstradt states in his article that he made several visits to the summit of Mount Tahan, most authors wrongly give the first ascent to Herbert C. Robinson, a British ornithologist who climbed that mountain during 1905.
Unfortunately when Waterstradt was on Mount Tahan the weather was miserable and usually the mountain was cloaked in a dense mists and his butterfly collections were poor. He did however make a made a large bird collection that was purchased by Lord Walter Rothschild for his Tring Museum.
While on the mountain Waterstradt did discover a new butterfly subspecies, Delias orphne tahanica Rothschild 1925. This is notable because Waterstradt's male specimen of D. orphne tahanica in the BMNH does seem to be the only known example. See here.
As mentioned Waterstradt discovered numerous beetles some of which were very impressive species, his richest collecting locality seems to have been on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo. I see from a recent thread that by winning an auction you can have a species named after you. I afraid some people's money and vanity will know no bounds, how much more refreshing to see species that were named in honour of actual collector such as the industrious and brave John Waterstradt.
Among the new Coleoptera that Waterstradt found on Mount Kinabalu are the giant stag beetle Odontolabis femoralis waterstradti Von Rothenburg 1900, the beautiful metallic green scarab beetle Onthophagus waterstradti Boucomont 1914 and the scarab beetle Dasyvalgus waterstradti Kolbe 1904.
I particulary like this story taken from Waterstradt's diary concerning beetles. While Waterstradt was at his purpose built hut on Mount Kinabalu, specimens were often bought to him by his efficent local native collectors. One day a native bought him a large beautiful beetle, perhaps one of the species listed above. Shortly afterwards this impessive specimen was stolen. Waterstradt surmised that the thief would turn up the next day to sell him his stolen beetle. Somehow Waterstradt found out who had his beetle and on hearing this, the native placed the beetle inside the hut on the floor and later he told Waterstradt it must have fallen through the floor boards and finding it wanted a reward!!
Previously Waterstradt have sent his Malay collectors to the Moluccan or Maluku Islands as they are now known. In 1902, he decided to explore these islands for natural history specimens himself. He spent two and half months on Obi Island before visiting Bacan and then moving on for six weeks to collect in Halmahera. He then visited Waigeo before returning to Halmerhera and going on to Ternate and Ambon. A trip to Ceram was called off through illness.
Obi Island and Ornithoptera aesacus.
A number of naturalists had visited the Obi previously to Waterstradt but they had missed Obi's most special and now famous butterfly. Waterstradt seems to have the first collector to have made it into the interior. Even that ' prince ' of collectors Will Doherty on his visit to Obi a decade before Waterstradt reached the island, only collected near the coast. When these visiting naturalist's and pioneers reached Obi, the island was clothed in primary forest. Today most of the lowland forest has been logged and replaced by coconut plantations. The loggers are now ascending into the mountains and large mining operations are destroying large areas of prime habitat of the island's endemic species.
In May 1902, Waterstradt collectors found some larvae of an unknown birdwing in lowland forest. Waterstradt was able to rear a series of adults which was named O. aesacus by Ney in 1903. Waterstradt did not record the early stages of this very beautiful turquoise birdwing and neither did he mention if he saw any of the adult butterflies. The four syntypes, one male and three females which Ney used in his description were in the possession of Hermann Rolle, a natural history dealer in Berlin. The O. aesacus types then passed to the Paris dealer Eugene le Moult who bought the larger part of Rolle's collection. These important specimens are according to Deslisle and Scalvo ( 2015) today in a private collection. Others from Waterstradt original series that he sent to Hans Fruhstofer are in the BMHN and two others that were bought from Rolle are in the Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria. Waterstradt also discovered a nice subspecies of Pseudonotis obiana Fruhstorfer 1908 = Hypochlorosis lorquinii obiana D' Abrera 1986.
A pair of Hypochlorosis lorquinii obiana.
It is interesting that in Barlow's account of the Waterstradt diaries there is no information in his article about his collecting in the Moluccan Islands. Barlow does hint that there was more information regarding Waterstradt's collecting. Waterstradt stay in Halmahera was very successful both in insects and birds and he discovered a very beautiful Delias that was named Delias Waterstradti Rothschild 1915 in his honour. Later this butterfly was found in Bachan and on the island of Moritai and both have been named as distinct subspecies. The nominate D. Waterstradt from Halmahera has been almost unknown for many years but now male specimens are appearing with a few of the females .
Males of Delias waterstradti from Halmahera.
One of the problems in writing articles like this is that Waterstradt's insects went to a number of different sources and those taxonomists described many new species and subspecies, it is often very difficult to determine who discovered what. Waterstradt's discoveries remain mostly unknown except for those bearing his name and with the exception of a few others. Waterstradt is probably better known for his bird discoveries by students of Southeast Asian birds.
The name of a collector might live on through the butterflies he discovered long after his death when he might otherwise have been forgotten. The beautiful giant swallowtail Papilio ulysses occurs in a number of races throughout the Australian region. Goode 2012 decided that the male specimens in the BMNH from Gebe Island were a distinct subspecies P. ulysses waterstradti. Thanks are due to Danny for the information on P. Ulysses and to Hewi for showing the male paratype and holotype and his specimen of this new and rare subspecies in this thread.
Delias eumolpe Grose-Smith (1889), is a large a beautiful Jezabel butterfly that is endemic to the mountains of Borneo. This species was first collected by the English naturalist John Whitehead on Mount Kinabalu in North Borneo and his type male is in the collections of the BMNH.
Later John Waterstradt found D. eumolpe on Mount Kinabalu and while researching the Delias collection at the Hope department of Entomology at Oxford, I found several of his male specimens of D. eumolpe that were collected by him on the west Spur of the mountain. The Waterstradt specimens were donated to the museum by the Hope Professor of Zoology Sir E.B. Poulton.
In the museum collections there is also a series of six males from Mount Kinabalu that were taken on the west spur of Mount Kinabalu by John Coney Moulton ( 1886-1926). Moulton was a British army officer and a naturalist who became the curator of the Sarawak Museum and then the Raffles Museum in Singapore.
Moulton found the the males of D.eumolpe to be fairly plentiful on Mount Kinabalu during August and September 1913. The females appear to be much less encountered than the males.
Males specimens of Delias eumolpe collected by John Waterstradt on Mount Kinabalu.
Males specimens of Delias eumolpe collected by J.C. Moulton on Mount Kinabalu.