Mahogany Presba, Syncordulia venator, Sapeleswalker.  

107 578 Mahogany Presba Male Kogelberg WCP Oct 2019r 1

104 502 Presba Mahogony Des 2013 Jonkershoek

104 501   Mahogany Presba, Syncordulia venator Nov 2015 Kogelberg

Short Description:

Mahogany Presba, Syncordulia venator, Sapeleswalker is fairly large sized with a hairy thorax, overall reddish brown with paired yellow dashes along the abdomen.

Family Libelluloidea incertae sedis 

104 502 Presba Mahogony Des 2013 JonkershoekImage Gallery

108 562 Dragonfly Syncordulia venator Female DSC03269 19reFemale









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Key identification features:


  • Face all light reddish brown with a covering of dense, dark brown hairs.
  • Eyes dark brown above, light grey below.
  • Thorax all reddish brown with pale yellow stripe above and in front of wings, sides with dark green metallic stripes and covering of long fine white hairs appearing almost like fur.
  • Wings with black veins, slightly smoky. Pterostigmas dark reddish grey, 2.8 mm long.
  • Abdomen reddish brown with series of double pale yellow dashes on segments 3 to 7, each double dash looks like a hoof print and is surrounded by brownish black.
  • Appendages long, dark brown, with covering of stiff dark brown hairs. Dark brown setae, Viewed from the top the upper claspers are curved outwards.


  • Very similar to male.
  • Abdomen stout,
  • Wings more smoky.
  • Frequents mostly streams but sometimes rivers shaded by gallery forest, but also in open landscapes and open areas in forest. Often with coarse detritus, probably especially calmer sections (like pools) with overhanging branches and submerged roots. 
  • Concluded to occur from 0 to 1600 m above sea level, but mostly between 200 and 800.
  • It hawks rapidly up and down over water. It is sometimes seen away from the water.
Compared with other species:
  • Very distinctive reddish brown, yellow-spotted species, which is much redder overall than Syncordulia gracilis and S. legator, both of which are essentially yellowish.
  • S. venator does not have the distinctive yellow stripes on side of thorax as does S. gracilis.
  • Similar to S. serendipator, both in overall colour and size.
  • S. venator abdominal spots are 'hoof' shaped and pale yellow when viewed from above, whereas they are more solid and orangy in S. serendipator. S. venator also has a fine, widening line along the mid-line of the thorax, barely present in S. serendipator.

Syncordulia venator MahoganyPresba Distribution Map June 2020










South Africa:

  • Endemic to the mountainous areas of the south western part of the Western Cape Province of South Africa.  Flag of South Africa.svg
  • Widespread in the area, but sparsely populated
Further reading:

Odonata Atlas of Africa - VMU Number 666300
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species  Vulnerable
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online

Full credit for this comparison to Michael J Samways.