Sri Lanka has been identified as a dragonfly hotspot in a paper published in the recently released journal Hydrobiologia. 30 per cent of dragonflies are endemic and 68 per cent of damselflies are endemic.
Jetwing Eco Holidays CEO cum wildlife promoter Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne says a scientific paper titled Global Diversity of Dragonflies (Odonata) in freshwater says that at present there is no sound basis for identifying the most important areas of endemism.
The paper says that without question the fauna of the islands New Guinea, Sulawesi, Sri Lanka and Madagascar are exceptionally rich in endemics.
The paper was authored by Vincent Kalkman, Viola Clausnitzer, Klaas-Douwe Dijkstra, Albert Orr, Dennis Paulson and Jan van Tol.
According to Ajanthan Shantiratnam of Jetwing Eco Holidays, of late Sri Lanka has become positioned as a destination for dragonfly watching. It is probably the first destination in Asia to overtly brand itself as a destination for dragonfly.
Jetwing Eco Holidays a company devoted for wildlife travel ran three dragonfly tours in the financial year ended March 31, 2008. The Company expects this trend to continue and expects the number of dragonfly watching tours to grow in Sri Lanka.
Shantiratnam said that dragonflies alone could be generating revenues of a few million rupees each year to Sri Lanka s growing wildlife tourism industry.
`It is difficult to quantify, but the specialist end of wildlife travelers alone could be generating between rupees 100 and 300 million revenue annually.`
Citing examples, Gehan said that the volunteer guides at Sinharaja are now paying close attention to the dragonflies and butterflies.
He said that this is helping them increase their revenue stream, raise their personal profile and become competent all round naturalists. Wildlife tourism is a useful avenue for local people to have skilled employment. It is also increasingly creating an economic agenda for conserving wildlife.
He added: `Sri Lanka is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. In the last two centuries, its population has grown ten fold. It has reached a point where conservation will be impossible if wildlife cannot pay its way.`