Ecologists and officials of the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) near Thekkady in Kerala are ecstatic after a comprehensive Odonata survey discovered the rare Indian Emerald dragonfly species after eight decades.
The last reported sighting of the species, endemic to the Travancore hills, was made in 1934.
“Obviously, we are very, very happy. When we discover anything that is unique to PTR, we are quite happy. This dragonfly species is glossy green in colour. It’s discovery is an indicator of the health of mountain streams,” J Patrick David, an ecologist at PTR, told IndianExpress.com.
David insists the sighting of the Indian Emerald is good news for species conservation and for the thousands of tourists who visit the reserve every year.
The Odonata survey, jointly conducted by PTR and the Indian Dragonfly Society between October 27-29, was done across 15 camps of the eastern and western divisions of the reserve. The extensive survey was held to gauge the abundant and endemic dragonfly and damselfly species in the reserve.
The survey also noted the north-south migration of the Wandering Glider Dragonfly, which is said to fly during this period to Maldives, even travelling across the Indian Ocean to Africa. They return to India with the onset of the southwest monsoon. Out of the 77 species recorded during the survey, ten were found to be endemic to Kerala.
The Periyar reserve, that spreads across three central districts in the state, is popular for the sighting of elephants, sambar, barking deer, otter, hornbill and wild dog. A lucky visitor may even spot the tiger during the summer months close to the Periyar lake.
“Spotting them is difficult as they are nocturnal. Also, we have dense vegetation here. We have around 25 tigers and 600-700 wild elephants,” said David.
Nearly 7 lakh people visit the reserve every year.