Critical species of Odonata in western Africa


Western Africa—defined as the tropical area from Cameroon westwards—probably has the richest odonate fauna in Africa, particularly the region of (and around) the Cameroon highlands. This region is home to many relict and endemic species, such as the continent’s only representatives of the families Amphipterygidae and Perilestidae. Previous selections of threatened West African Odonata have been arbitrary because it is impossible to differentiate between species that are genuinely endangered and those which are simply data-deficient. Many listed species just appear to be difficult to record or have been taxonomically confused; some ‘endangered species’ have already dissolved into synonymy. A revised and probably more complete selection of species requiring attention is provided, but because the source data is so scanty it remains subjective. Species in Gomphidae and Corduliidae are not included, as the knowledge of their taxonomy and distribution is particularly problematic at present. Many listed species may prove to be of minor concern once more research in the field and in the museum has been done. It is argued that if rainforest reserves (existing in most nations discussed) are maintained, the great majority of West Africa’s unique Odonata will be protected. Although most rare species are probably stenotopic rainforest inhabitants, open landscapes also harbour a rich and potentially endangered odonate fauna.

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