BDInsight – September 2019

September flew by! Where is the year going? We hope you are all enjoying the Spring weather and getting ready for a great Summer of biodiversity explorations and mapping.

The Return of The Dragons

The Return of The Dragons saw OdonataMAPpers snap and map 646 dragonflies and damselflies from five African countries (Botswana, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia). Of the records submitted, 86% have been identified already, thanks to the amazing OdonataMAP expert panel.

The three species seen most often during the shoot the dragons week were Red-veined Darters Sympetrum fonscolombii (54 records), Tropical Bluetails Ischnura senegalensis (46) and Broad Scarlets Crocothemis erythraea (38). In the photo above we have a stunning Black-splashed Elf Tetrathemis polleni, mapped by Toby Esplin in St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal.

Diana Russell took top honours for the week with 73 dragons OdonataMAPped. Followed by Toby Esplin (68) and Jean Hirons on 42 records. Well done. You are absolute stars! A big thank you goes to each and everyone of you that uploaded records to OdonataMAP during the Return of The Dragons Week – – please keep an eye out for any and all odonata this season.

News from the field

Les Underhill, Karis Daniel, Altha Liebenberg, Salome Wilemse, and a group of keen BioMAPpers were out in the boondocks on the Boegoeberg BioBASH collecting valuable biodiversity data. Les sent this wonderful photo (below) of the Boegoeberg Dam. The Boegoeberg Dam, completed in 1933, is the third largest dam in the Orange River. It is located near Groblershoop and Prieska in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

We look forward to hearing all about their trip. Watch this space!

Student Research Projects

A major expansion of the BDI website was undertaken in August. The information about the Research Projects for students is now live. Please go and have a look at

Our main research project themes are ecology, environmental sociology, ecological economics, and historical ecology. These themes overlap to a large degree, and our research projects often involve cross-disciplinary research involving several themes.

Although applications from anyone, anywhere in the world, will be considered, we anticipate most of our students will be from universities in Europe. Many universities encourage their students to undertake a project abroad, and the academic year in which this opportunity is permitted varies a lot. The duration of the project also varies, between weeks and months. The role of the BDI is to provide accommodation and supervision. We are geared up to undertake the formal contractual obligations needed by the sending university.

Field research in action – camera trapping
Megan Loftie-Eaton
Megan Loftie-Eaton
Megan is our communications, social media and citizen science coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. A citizen science project run by the Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town and funded by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation. She also coordinated LepiMAP, which is the Atlas on African Lepidoptera. Megan is passionate about biodiversity conservation. She is a firm believer in the power of citizen science and getting the public involved in nature conservation.