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Metacnemis angust, The Ceres Stream Damselfly

Conservation efforts are the most difficult in areas where the interests of humans directly conflict with the survival of the endangered species. South Africa's Ceres Stream Damselfly is a good representative of this situation.

The Ceres Stream Damselfly, Metacnemis angusta, was thought to be extinct until two females were rediscovered in 2003. Previous to that the last sighting was made in 1920. Damselflies have very specific habitat requirements, and this is what put them directly in conflict with human interests.

South Africa has had a long term water problem. In recent years the government has begun irrigating from small natural streams and pools to areas further and further away. Coupled with invasive plant species such as the Australian Wattle Tree utilizing an incredible amount of water, the tapping of these small streams for human use eventually led to many of them drying up. Damselflies needed these bodies of water to lay their eggs in, and when they dissapeared so did the insect communities around them.

The Work for Water progam helped to combat this problem in hopes of helping people. The program cleared many of the invasive species of plants that were unchecked by the local environment. The return of the streams that resulted was great news for people, but also brought back M. angusta, which must have been surviving in small isolated populations. As long as humans do not contribute to complete drying or pollution of the streams again, the Ceres Stream Damsel may recover to its previous population size. Unfortunatley other damsels in the area, such as the Cape Bluet, have not resurfaced and are probably extinct.


Samways, Michael. "Diversity and Conservation STatus of South African Dragonflies." Odonatologica. 1999. 28(1): 13-62


Orginal Paper : Hinchman, 2006

Written By: Eric Denemark, 2008


Image credit: Image Credit