Drakensberg Malachite (Chlorolestes draconicus)

View the above photo record (by Riëtte Griesel) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Drakensberg Malachite in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Synlestidae

Chlorolestes draconicusDRAKENSBERG MALACHITE


Large size

Length up to 59mm; Wingspan attains 76mm.

Within its restricted range Chlorolestes draconicus can only be mistaken for Chlorolestes fasciatus (Mountain Malachite).

The Drakensberg Malachite is larger and there is virtually no size overlap between the two species. The two can be further differentiated by the yellow stripes on the upper thorax. This stripe is narrow in the Mountain Malachite and does not reach the wing base. The stripes are broad and extend to the wing bases in the Drakensberg Malachite. In addition Chlorolestes draconicus does not have a form with black and white banded wings.

Click here for more details on identification.

Chlorolestes draconicus – Male
Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Riëtte Griesel


Frequents rocky streams in high mountain areas, that are fringed by boulders, tall grass, sedge and bushes. Also occurs along forested streams in protected ravines. Only found above 1700m a.s.l.


Most often seen perched on vegetation over the water, typically with wings outstretched. Also regularly perches on rocks in the stream.

Most active from December to March (See Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

Uncommon and localised. Its conservation status has been assessed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Much of its range is protected within the uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park.


Endemic to South Africa and Lesotho. This species has a restricted range in the Drakensberg mountains.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Drakensberg Malachite in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.

The next map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum.

Ultimately we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.

These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.

OdonataMAP record by Alan Manson: http://vmus.adu.org.za/?vm=OdonataMAP-20453

The next two graphs shows how the occurrence of Drakensberg Malachites varies within the year, i.e. the phenology. There are only 11 records in the database for this species, so these results need to be treated cautiosly. The first plot shows the number of records in each pentade, five-day periods, which start on 1 July and end on 30 June the following year. There are two pentades with two records, in December-Janaury. The blue line is generated by a smoother, an algorithm which aims to separate the “signal” from the “noise”, and shows the pattern of seasonality for this species. The second plot shows only the blue line, and it is scaled to lie between zero and one, for easy comparison between species.

This phenology plot for the Drakensberg Malachite is tentative (because the sample size is extremely small, only 11 records. It suggests a flight period from December to March. This is a species for which the quality of the phenology plot would be greatly improved by obtaining more OdonataMAP records.

Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science projects coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. Ryan Tippett is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the VMU since 2014 and has currently submitted over 11000 records. He is also on the expert identification panel for the OdonataMAP project. Rene Navarro is the genius behind the Virtual Museum. Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics.