Love with dragonflies had been an old affair and the DragonflyIndia meet in August 2014 announcement was like rejuvenating those chapters. Personally meeting the experts, who had been helping you to identify your photographs via the virtual world of the Yahoo Groups and Facebook, was an enthralling experience.
The Idea of having its very first meet-cum-workshop arose on the facebook group, ‘DragonflyIndia’ which is a part of DiversityIndia, a system of web-portals founded by Vijay Barve.
Dr. R. J. Andrew, Secretary of South Asian Council of Odonatology, graciously agreed to combine the meet with 8th Indian Symposium on Odonatology and Tropical Biodiversity at Hisplop college, Nagpur.The meet was in association with India Biodiversity Portal, which has been working on creating usable faunal databases.
The plan was to have presentations, classroom sessions and the outdoor field trips.
Let me list down the Presentations imprinted in my mind.
Parag Ragnekar introduced us to Field identification of odonates and Practical Taxonomy. The presentation was not just excellent but it was equivalent to sharing his learning over the years, in an hours time, where he presented us the key differences between the species and identification tips. For an Oder it was none less than finding a treasure.
K.A.Subramanian The Father of Odonates presented Taxonomy of Odonates. A gem of a person he is, he selflessly distributed Copies of the Odonata Literature like the Frasers, Odonates of Mahableshwar, Srilankan Odonates to each and every participants.
Pankaj Koparde’s presentation on Odonate Surveys introduced different methods used in surveys and had important points to add while creating a Species check list, like counting the no of individuals, male/female nos.
P Jegan put forward a very Unique Topic which emphasized on the ‘Significance of Local dialect / Local names of the Species in popularizing the Science’. His Subject reminded me of Gandhi’s book ‘Nai Talim’ where he emphasizes on the education to be parted in the Mother tongue.
Morning Field Trips around Nagpur allowed us to soak ourselves in the water of practical oding.To name a few were Violet Stripped Blue Dart, other Pseudagrion, Rhodischnura nursei mating, Club Tails, Trumpet Tails mating, and many more.
Other presentations were of Thomas Vattakaven who familiarized us with India Biodiversity Portal and its importance in data acquisition.
Prosenjit Dawn presented on how to pet a dragonfly larvae. He shared a lot of practical experiences like sampling some fresh water from where the larvae is fetched, food to feed them and so on.
The workshop sessions where Parag Ragnekar familiarized us on how to use the keys mentioned in the Fraser was the most important part of the entire 3 days, which even involved us using microscopes to differentiate the wing patterns. Such sessions have to be given maximum weight age in forthcoming meets.
The nights trails were replaced by “identifying the unidentified Sessions” lead by Parag Ragnekar and David Raju, David recently launched a book on Odonates of Kerala in the Local Language and who even presented on the Frogs of Peninsular India in the Symposium.Vijay Barve’s journey as a research fellow at FRLHT and a PhD candidate at the University of Kansas, United States was very inspiring. He is one of the two 2014 winners of the €4,000 award, granted annually to graduate students demonstrating research innovation and originality.
Ashish Tiple and R. J. Andrew played an amazing host and their infinite energies were applaud able.
A special mention is must for the most impressive Symposium presentation by Prosenjit Yadav on “Photography as a tool for conservation”. His portfolio showcased the variety which everyone of us would dream off with Laterite Table Top Plateau’s of Kass Satara, Deserts of Rajasthan to the Snow Leopards of Himalayas. His Night video on the Fox attacking the Herds of the Rajasthan gypsies and photographs of Amur Falcon mass traps from the Nagaland are things that will live forever with me.