Farewell to a creation care hero

Only three people have ever received honorary citizenship in Nepal. One of these was Sir Edmund Hillary, who (with Tenzing Sherpa) was the first to scale Mount Everest.

The third was Colin Smith who devoted six decades to recording and describing the butterflies of this Himalayan country.

Arriving from Britain in 1964 to work with United Mission to Nepal, Colin was motivated by his Christian faith from the beginning until his death on 4 November 2023. He began by teaching maths, but quickly became fascinated by the spectacular butterflies of the Himalayas, drawing on an interest sparked by his uncle in England and spurred by a request from his mission agency to create a butterfly collection for Nepal. In 1974, he seized an opportunity to work on butterflies fulltime through a Nepali university, and over the next decades increased the number of butterfly species recorded in Nepal from less than 400 to about 650. He recorded his work in over 30 books, one becoming a best-seller in Kathmandu. Colin has inspired many people through his work and life, training many young Nepalis as lepidopterists and becoming known locally as Putali Bajey (“Butterfly Grandpa” in Nepali). He will be remembered for drawing many people to appreciate God’s creation in a place of remarkable biodiversity.

British entomologist Colin Smith, showing moths, which were collected in Nepal. – Dhulikhel, near Kathmandu, Nepal. Den britiske entomolog Colin Smith viser natsværmere, indsamlet i Nepal. – Dhulikhel, nær Kathmandu, Nepal

This picture was taken in Kathmandu, 2002. Taken from Invertebrates in the Himalaya (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)