A Dragonfly named for 2 Northeastern Trailblazers

A Dragonfly named for 2 Northeastern Trailblazers

A new species of dragonfly has been named after two women who are agents of change in the Northeast! It’s great news as we move towards World Environment day.

A North-eastern news site has reported that a  new species of dragonfly,  the ‘Brahmaputra Picktail’ –  has been christened ‘Platygomphus Benritarum’.

Shantanu Joshi and Anuja Mittal discovered the species. . The study has been published in the International Journal of Odonatology. Dragonflies and damselflies belong to the order Odonata of insects.

PlatygomphusBenritarum (Picture credit- Shantanu Joshi)

 “In India, around 490 species are known but this number keeps increasing as new species are described, and new species are recorded for the first time from India,” Shantanu Joshi, the curator of Odonata at Research Collections, NCBS, Bangalore, told the news site.

Now the name ‘Benritarium” is  honour of two women: Monisha ‘Ben’ Behal (founder, North East Network) and Rita Banerji (founder, Green Hub Project, Dusty Foot Foundation). The North east Network empowers women and connected to it, the Green Hub empowers our Youngsters to love and report on our earth, rivers, and wildlife.

Monisha ‘Ben’
Rita Banerji

The dragonfly was found by researchers Shantanu Joshi and Anuja Mital, who came across two interesting dragonflies during the pandemic.

The new species- Platygomphus benritarum found resting on a large Ficus tree situated about 5–6 meters from the banks of the Brahmaputra river near the Rudra Padh Temple in the evening.

“The habitat along the banks is dominated by grasses, sparse trees, paddy fields and marshlands, along with some forest patches and tree plantations. Platygomphus spp. (especially P. dolabratus) are known to prefer lowland rivers with sandy banks and sparse vegetation, which also seems to apply to this species,” the study says.

Shantanu says: “This species was christened as Platygomphus benritarum Joshi & Mital, 2022 in the honor of two women Monisha ‘Ben’ Behal (founder, North East Network) and Rita Banerji (founder, Greenhub Project), who have contributed significantly towards empowering and training the youth of northeast India, working towards creating ecological security, sustainable livelihoods, and social change.”

“It is very special to have a new dragonfly species found in Tezpur, Assam named after us and our work. It is very generous of Shantanu Joshi and Anuja Mital as young wildlife researchers to do that. We believe that it is the youth today, who are spearheading and leading the work towards conservation and sustainability, and this in a way is a tribute to the youth of northeast India,” Monisha ‘Ben’ Behal and Rita Banerji told the news site EastMojo. 

About the unique name, they said: “It represents the convergence of thought, vision and action for the region – a coming together of women and youth; a collaborative path that is founded on the spirit of compassion and collective action for ecological security and community wellbeing. What better to represent and celebrate this spirit, than a dragonfly! We are deeply thankful for this very special and extraordinary acknowledgement.”