Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Botswana Taxonomic Survey dragonfly studies

Trithemis brydeni
From November to December 2007 dragonfly expert Jens Kipping of BioCart Environmental Assessments from Germany participated in the Botswana Taxonomic Survey field work in Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. The project, initiated and coordinated by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and co-funded by the Government of Botswana and the European Union, aimed to gather as much as possible data on the spatial distribution of different groups of animals and plants from the big five protected areas in Botswana. The project included desk work with databases, museum collections and available literature and two weeks of fieldwork.

Jens reported:

"Several specialists, mainly from Stellenbosch University under the leadership of Prof. Michael J. Samways, focused on different groups of animals: reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, small mammals, various invertebrates with butterflies and dragonflies, but also vascular plants. The team decided to spend its limited time within the most promising areas: Moremi Game Reserve (Xaxanaka area) and, later, the dragonfly group (Jens Kipping and Elmar Schuran) visited Chobe National Park, the rest of the team the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The Botswana Taxonomic Survey project team
We had very positive results – the visits took place at the right time at the right place. In Moremi Game Reserve many dragonfly species were reconfirmed after a period of 30 years. Most spectacular was the rediscovery of Trithemis brydeni (only one male, see photograph), last recorded in the Okavango Delta in December 1975 by Elliott Pinhey (1976) but not seen in whole Africa since. This is a very rare and local species only known from less than ten specimens in all. Anax bangweuluensis, Trithemis aequalis, Aciagrion steeleae or Pseudagrion helenae had not been seen since more than 30 years in the region. A topping was the first Botswana record of Trithemis pluvialis at the Linyanti swamps of Chobe National Park the following week. Conditions of collecting at Moremi Game Reserve were excellent, due to the support of the local Department of Wildlife and National Parks scouts and the sunny weather.

During the visit to Chobe National Park the weather conditions changed for the worse with lots of rain and daily downpours, a challenge for people and their car. On the way back the dragonfly team spent some days at the Khwai River, Moremi Game Reserve with also good results. Alltogether more than 55 species of Odonata came on record – and this within only two weeks!"

The full report of the project can be found in HOORC's Library.

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