A new species of grasshopper discovered in Catalonia in northeastern Spain has been named after two local rangers who were killed by a hunter in 2017.
The insect, a member of the Orthoptera order that includes crickets, grasshoppers and locusts, has been named Pycnogaster ribesiglesiasii after Xavier Ribes Villas and David Iglesias Díez, who were shot to death while working in the Segrià region of Catalonia.
The insect was discovered in Anoia, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Barcelona, and occupies a habitat of only about 1,000 square meters (1,195 square yards).
Josep María Olmo, a biologist from the Generalitat de Catalunya who has been searching for new species for years, described it as an area of unique biodiversity.
“We have named it ribesiglesiasii in recognition of the great work of rangers in conserving biodiversity,” said Olmo. “In fact, it was the wildlife agents who helped us find out. The most popular name he wears, some Davier, refers to his first names, David and Xavier ”.
Ribes and Iglesias were patrolling near the town of Aspa, in the Catalan province of Lleida, when they ran into a group of men shooting thrushes. One of the men, Ismael Rodríguez, shot the officers with his unlicensed shotgun, then reloaded and shot them a second time.
Rodríguez waited almost an hour before calling emergency services. When he finally did, he told the operator: “They came and I got nervous and I don’t know why I reacted like that.”
In February 2019, Rodríguez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay more than 1 million euros to the families of the victims.
The killings led to orders for weapons for Spain’s 6,000 rangers.
Llorenç Ricou, head of the Lleida rangers, told The Guardian that the families, friends and colleagues of Ribes and Iglesias had been deeply moved by the gesture.
“This insect was discovered by rangers, one of whom had trained with David Iglesias,” Ricou said. “When it became known that it was a species that had never been identified, people realized that it would need a name. The rangers asked that he be named after his two murdered colleagues who had done so much to protect nature.
“The animals usually end with the name of scientists, but in this case it has been given the name of two rangers. A lot of people don’t think it’s a big deal, but for those of us who are dedicated to protecting the natural world, it’s a lovely and symbolic act. “