Dragon Hunting

Orthetrum sabinaI first became fascinated by dragonflies during my gap year expedition to Madagascar. There was a dusty track that led from camp down to Tsarakibany village which we would walk almost every day. We would cross a sun-scorched field scattered with Zebu cows. I can clearly remember the overwhelming number of brightly coloured dragonflies, they were everywhere! It didnt take me long to notice that the short fat red ones were the most common, followed by the short fat yellow ones. It was only after my return to the UK that I found out that they were sexually dimorphic (males and females can be different colours and in fact they were the same short fat species). During the afternoons I would notice swarms of larger dragonflies circling at greater height and then occasionally I would spot beautiful stocky blue individuals, with painted blue wings perched motionless on a tall grass stem. Over the weeks I spotted completely different species in the forest that I couldnt see in the scorched grass fields, and then very occasionally a massive beauty would purr overhead.

I had enrolled to gain a Btec qualification whilst I was on the expedition and when it came to deciding a research project for the last two weeks; it was a complete no-brainer. Edmond, our resident Malagasy all-round camp action-man had soon knocked up a few nets fit for any entomologist and I got stuck in.

A couple of years later I chose to research dragonflies in the Peruvian Amazon for my university thesis, but this time I had a bigger net!

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