Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Not all that glitters is gold, sometimes it is Rhinocypha orea

Rhinocypha orea was described by Hamalainen & Karube based on specimens collected around Tam Dao in the 1990s. It was still seen by Do Manh Cuong in 2005, but development around Tam Dao village has been rampant and pollution of the surroundings profound. There was hope that this beautiful jewel would be elsewhere on the Tam Dao mountain range, but some feared it was lost. It was therefore wonderful that I saw one male on May 17 in the forest along the trail to Tam Dao 2. This is at approximately 1000m altitude, close to the altitude of the earlier records. I saw it perched on a bush in the forest under heavy tree cover, by a small stream. It came as another surprise when on May 18 I saw another male near the Tay Thien monastery, at only 300m asl or so, again in the forest perched on a bush. If it also occurs lower in the forest, there is hope it may still be around in some numbers. As far as we know, it is restricted to Tam Dao.

Rhinocypha orea, male. Very dark species with golden gloss on inside of hind wings and green gloss on tips of hind wings on the outside.

Rhinocypha orea, male

The beautiful golden top of the wings, difficult to see in the field


  1. Hi Tom, firstly I found the photos of R. orea in Sebastien blog then now I understood that you are the person who found it again after many years I saw the good population in nature. In fact last year we try to get into Tam Dao 2, it about 10 km from the Tam Dao to Tay Thien direction. However the habitat in Tam Dao 2 also be strong destroyed.
    I be in Tay Thien only one time, about same time to the year that I saw the population of R. orea in Tam Dao, all about dragonflies in Tay Thien that I can remember is there is a very good population of A. coomani. I don't come back Tay Thien because A. coomani also common in Xuan Son and Hoa Binh. It is really great thing as you found R. orea in Tay Thien, however until we are not sure about stable of the population in Tay Thien, R. orea still keeping in En level of IUCN Redlist. You have many great discover here, but I suggest it is one of great thing that you done. I suggest that you should do some report to Agrion or something like that for the thing you are posting here, or also co work with Sebastien to do together, please contact to Rory about the publication of Agrion, he emailed me some days ago and I already suggested both of you.

  2. Hi Cuong, thank you for your comments. I am happy the species seems at least safe for the moment!

  3. Tom, I think not only us, many odonatologists around the world want to see one of E level species still flying in the field. I think your discovery is one of big step in conservation of this species.

  4. I really hope so. They are throwing so much garbage in the streams near the nunnery, I hope someone can convince people there to take different care of the ecosystem. But the other day when I visited the species was omnipresent.