Gilded Presba (Syncordulia legator)

View the above photo record (by Basil Boer) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Gilded Presba in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Synthemistidae

Syncordulia legator GILDED PRESBA


Medium-large size

Length up to 49mm; Wingspan attains 70mm.

A very distinctively marked species. The chocolate brown thorax is noticeably hairy and carries indistinct black lines and markings with a single pale stripe above. The abdomen pattern is diagnostic, being dark yellow with black bands and streaks. The sexes are alike, although females have broader abdomens.

Most similar to the Yellow Presba (Syncordulia gracilis), but that species has diagonal yellow bands on the sides of the thorax and a differently patterned abdomen.

Click here for more details on identification of the Gilded Presba.

Syncordulia legator – Male
Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Photo by Basil Boer


Inhabits fast flowing, rocky streams and rivers in fynbos. Mostly over fairly open terrain in hilly or mountainous areas.

Habitat – Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Photo by Corné Rautenbach


Hunts in flight as it courses up and down a chosen route along the stream, but more likely to be encountered some distance from water, hunting over open fynbos vegetation. Adults spend relatively little time at the water. The flight is fast and direct. Hangs vertically from a branch or twig when perched and often rests fairly close to the ground.

Starts flying earlier in the season than other Presbas. On the wing from late September to early December. See Phenology below.

Status and Conservation

This species is a rare and localised South African endemic. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Gilded Presba is intolerant towards habitat degradation and only occurs at undisturbed sites.


Syncordilia legator is endemic to South Africa, where it is confined to the mountainous regions of the Western Cape. Occurs from the Cedarberg in the North to the Kogelberg Nature Reserve in the South.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Gilded Presba 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.