Muhabura Volcano

Ntaruka power station

Rugezi Marsh





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a close‑up of the Portia widow dragonfly




I grew up in the African country of Rwanda. I lived in a village close to a wetland. I remember swimming with friends in the rivers. I tried to catch dragonflies as they flew by. We called them: “Flying Flowers of the River.” Over time, I began to see fewer of them. I wanted to know why!

In the shadow of an old volcano sit two lakes, Burera and Ruhondo. Also in the valley is Rugezi Marsh. This wetland covers a wide area. It controls water that flows into the lakes. I do a lot of my work here.

The marsh is a source of both water and power. Water seeps through the marsh. It feeds Lake Burera. This, in turn, feeds the hydroelectric power station.

In Rwanda, the dwarf percher dragonfly can only be found in Rugezi Marsh.

Facing a Crisis

Years ago, my country suffered an energy shortage. Power produced by the power station dropped. Water levels in Lake Burera dropped, too. Too much human activity and too little rainfall harmed the ecosystem.

Many of Rwanda’s people depend on farming. So, wetlands are converted into farmland. In the last two decades, we’ve tried to restore the Rugezi Marsh. Some efforts are working.

And believe it or not, the “flying flowers” of my childhood might be part of the solution!

A violet dropwing dragonfly rests on a branch.

Signs of Health

It turns out, dragonflies are a good sign of the health of a wetland. They spend most of their life cycle in the water. For them to thrive, the water must be clean. They also need healthy plants nearby to hide from predators.

So, I created a monitoring system. We use dragonflies to help us identify areas that need protecting.

As the marsh continues to recover, I am sure we will see more “flying flowers” on the river!