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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Meet SWEETEY, the dragonfly, Wayanad’s election mascot

Updated on: 24 April,2024 07:18 AM IST  |  Wayanad
Vinod Kumar Menon |

The rare dragonfly, represents Wayanad’s commitment to biodiversity and democracy

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Meet SWEETEY, the dragonfly, Wayanad’s election mascot

Inauguration of mascot - SWEETEY the dragonfly by District Collector Dr Renu Raj

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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Meet SWEETEY, the dragonfly, Wayanad’s election mascot

The Wayanad district administration, officially, declared its Lok Sabha election mascot a rare dragonfly having the acronym ‘SWEETEY’ which stands for Spreading Wayanad’s Election Enthusiasm Through Epithemis Wayanandensis on Monday. The district collector, Dr Renu Raj, who is also the district electoral officer, inaugurated the official mascot, as a symbol of democratic fervor in the form of SWEETY, the name coined by SVEEP, Wayanad.

According to district administration officials, “SWEETEY carries the vital message of widespread participation and awareness of voting rights within the community. The initiative titled ‘Spreading Wayanad’s Election Enthusiasm Through Epithemis Wayanadensis’ aims to harness the presence of Epithemis.

The new species of dragonfly was discovered accidentally by a naturalist
The new species of dragonfly was discovered accidentally by a naturalist

“Wayanadensis is a recently discovered dragonfly species in the Wayanad biosphere reserve. To galvanise civic engagement under the banner of SVEEP (Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participations), a series of awareness programs have been deployed, including the comprehensive campaign, ‘Urappanu Ente Vote,’ (I assure of my vote or be sure of my vote or rest assured of my vote), targeting new voters,” said the official.

“Furthermore, competitions have been organised among students and the general public to foster a culture of electoral literacy spearheaded by SVEEP and the electoral literacy club, Nehru Yuvak Kendra. Concerted efforts are underway to empower citizens to exercise their voting rights. SWEETEY, the mascot is poised to play a pivotal role in these campaigns in the days to come,” the official said.

Official symbol

The mascot has become the official brand ambassador for all the election-related posters and communication and the same is being widely accepted by even the State. Election posters, were distributed encouraging tribals and people residing across the district, about the election date and about the new mascot, which is the first of its kind, to be introduced this election.

SWEETEY posters being displayed by the tribals
SWEETEY posters being displayed by the tribals

“It is the best way to showcase the biodiversity of Wayanad, and to also highlight the different forms of species that are seen, within the wilds of Wayanad, and everything that needs to be done, to guard Wayanad and its natural habitats,” said Jose, a resident.

Man behind the dragonfly

David Raju, 39, General Manager of CGH Earth Wayanad Wild, expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative to include this newly discovered dragonfly as the mascot to represent the environmental causes of the Wayanad region, stating, “ We’re grateful to Dr Renu Raj and her team, for conceptualising this. Mascots of nature play a crucial role in raising awareness about biodiversity conservation and its intersection with electoral processes. SWEETY symbolises the unique biodiversity of Wayanad and highlights the need for sustainable development practices within electoral discourse.”   

Discovery of the dragonfly

When asked about the flashback, David recalled, stating, “In October 2022, at Pookode Lake in Wayanad, a naturalist from CGH Earth Wayanad Wild stumbled upon a peculiar dragonfly. Initially identified as a Ruby-Tailed Hawklet (Epithemis Mariae) this dragonfly is a seasonal species that is visible only for a month or two after the monsoon period in small swamps.

The naturalist team of Wayanad led by David Raju, investigated further to realise that there were distinct differences in morphology and genetic makeup. Collaborating further with dragonfly researcher Vivek Chandran, they found that thoracic markings, colouration, anal appendages, and genitalia were all different from the Ruby-Tailed Hawklet. To confirm without any doubt, a collaborative effort was launched to ascertain the morphological and DNA analysis” explained David.

The DNA analysis revealed a significant 12 per cent difference in a studied gene between the newly discovered species and the known Ruby-Tailed Hawklet.

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