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Damselfly named animal of the year

The banded demoiselle, a colourful dragonfly-like insect that lives along slow-moving streams and rivers, has been named animal of the year for 2008.

This content was published on January 8, 2008 - 15:38

Pro Natura, the country's leading conservation agency, awarded the insect the special honour to highlight the problem of its steadily shrinking aquatic habitat.

The banded demoiselle, or calopteryx splendens, is a European damselfly traditionally found along watercourses in north-facing alpine regions, especially in canton Valais.

The damselfly is part of the lucky 50 per cent of Swiss animal species that are still not endangered, but its condition is precarious, said Pro Natura in a statement on Tuesday.

Several populations of the main species have already started to disappear in the central Swiss region, it added.

To prevent the situation from getting worse, the insect urgently needs its natural habitat - calm rivers with plenty of vegetation, reedy marshes and alder bushes – to be protected, warned Pro Natura.

The organisation added that around 50 per cent of Swiss animal and plant species depend on natural watercourses for their survival.

In 2007 Pro Natura designated the common grayling, a fish with an uncertain future also owing to loss of habitat, as its animal of the year.

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