When all hell broke loose this morning, with someone yelling ”Camera!”, I was up like a shot. And what a treat!
Perching in one of the pots and, as I initially thought, completely done in for sure was this …. the Knysna Orange Veined Skimmer. I had time for just one very poor shot before it was gone.
At nearly eight inches in length it is probably one the largest African dragonflies, and certainly the largest in South Africa. For comparison, you can just see the tip of my running shoe. They are generally considered indigenous to the Kynsna Forest on the south coast, where, because of a particular enzyme found in several natural water holes, they have evolved to such a size. As elusive as the Knysna Elephants that were also once thought to be extinct, entomologists believed a similar fate had befallen the Kynsna Skimmer. But since the discovery of a pair back in 2002, entomologists from Cape Town University have been unsuccessful to try to initiate a breeding program, and after numerous forays into the forest have been unable to find any larvae. The original pair, which died in 2004, are on display in the entomology department at Cape Town University.
Furthermore, logging and the resultant ecological crisis this has brought about has seen much destruction of the forest and most indigenous mammals have also disappeared. With no mammals there is no dung and no dung means the disappearance of the dragon fly’s main food source – the Knysna fly.
So, to come across such a specimen really was a treat beyond words.
As the HOD at Cape Town University says on their website. “As far as we are concerned, there are no Kynsna Orange- Veined Skimmers. No shit!”