Zambezi Siphontail (Neurogomphus zambeziensis)

View the above photo record (by Bart Wursten) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Zambezi Siphontail in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Gomphidae

Neurogomphus zambeziensis ZAMBEZI SIPHONTAIL


Large size

Length attains 57mm; Wingspan up to 73mm.

Strikingly marked in lime-green and brown.

The thorax is green with narrow brown lines on the top and sides. The abdomen is mostly brown with yellow-green ‘triangular’ markings down the sides. There is a diagnostic yellow band around the eighth segment on the abdomen. The males have modest foliations on segments eight and nine.

Females resemble the males but have reduced foliations on the abdomen and are more robust.

Most similar to Phyllogomphus selysi (Bold Leaftail), but that species is noticeably larger and darker in appearance with thicker black markings and larger foliations on the abdomen.

Click here for more details on identification of the Zambezi Siphontail.

Neurogomphus zambeziensis – Male
Zambezi National Park, Zimbabwe
Photo by Bart Wursten


Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical lowland savannas, where it inhabits the fringes of larger rivers. Favours well-wooded habitats.

Habitat – Ndumo Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


The Zambezi Siphontail hunts from a perch and has a relatively slow, weak flight. Hunts from bushes and other low vegetation. Often found some distance from the water.

Status and Conservation

A rare species in South Africa. Listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Neurogomphus zambeziensis is found over a relatively small area of SE Africa where it has been recorded in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and possibly Tanzania.

In South Africa it occurs marginally along larger, east-flowing rivers in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and extreme northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Zambezi Siphontail 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.

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.