World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF India), in collaboration with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) launched the 3rd edition of Dragonfly Festival 2020. The pan-India festival dedicated to dragonflies aims to create awareness for the conservation of these insects.
The Dragonfly Festival started in 2018, is a way to educate and inform the public about the integral role that dragonflies, and their lesser-known siblings damselflies, play in our environment. The aim of the festival has always been to create a connection between the common man and these beautiful creatures. Through the 2 years of this festival numerous field visits with experts have been organised and. In 2018 dragonfly count was conducted by WWF India and BNHS and total of 27 species were recorded in Delhi, 5 of which were rare sightings
Radhika Suri, Director Environment Education, WWF India says “It gives me immense happiness to see the reach of the Dragonfly Festival 2020 in 9 different states this year and I am sure it will reach many corners of our country. I strongly believe that this festival will inspire the younger generation to study odonates and help build awareness in their role as critical bioindicators. Discussions and advocacy for conservation of these insects in India is the need of the hour.”
Due to the current pandemic situation, WWF India, BNHS, and Indian Dragonfly Society (IDS) along with, UNEP, UNDP, NBA and IUCN decided to conduct this year’s Dragonfly Festival virtually. The Dragonfly Festival 2020 aims at building awareness about the importance of these insects and the need to conserve them. WWF India, BNHS, and IDS will be training a group of volunteers to lead awareness programmes which will sensitize people about the importance of dragonflies and damselflies. These volunteers led programmes will be conducted across the country and done throughout the year.
Elaborating on the benefits of dragonflies, Sohail Madan Centre Manager, BNHS said “Dragonflies are some of the best predators to keep mosquito populations low. Not only do they scavenge the skies in adulthood, but they eat a large number of mosquito larvae in their larval form. Dragonflies can be the answer to the mosquito problem in India.”
The Dragonfly festival 2020 was virtually launched by Mr Ravi Singh, SG and CEO, WWF India. Dr Subramaniam, (Scientist-E and officer-in-charge, Southern Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India) delivered an expert talk on the importance of dragonflies and the role of citizens in their conservation. Dr Subramaniam emphasised that societal participation for mass data generation on dragonflies is imperative to understand their lives, habitats and protection. Free and easy accessibility of this data for the public is key, and hence must be put on common platforms. The yearlong festival will include a number of fun wildlife activities involving sessions with dragonfly experts, interactive webinars, prize-winning competitions on Photography, Art, Storytelling, Quizzes, and much more. The festival will also provide an opportunity for people to undertake citizen science projects on backyards counts, exploring the dragonflies across India and documenting their unique behaviour.
The Dragonfly Festival continues to be a success in the conservation of these beautiful creatures and their habitats. Both WWF India and BNHS aim that by next year, the Dragonfly Festival will build a team of amateur conservationists in India that will document the process of understanding dragonflies and monitoring the rise of species. This also ensures a systematic process of meeting and discussing lesser known dragonfly species.
Citizens can log on to https://standwithnature.org/ to check upcoming webinars and participate in the various competitions. This website will offer educational content and online learning toolkits on dragonflies and damselflies.