LOCALS are being urged to keep their eyes peeled for dragons in the area!
No, they won’t be sweeping overhead, but they may just be lurking around your property, and the experts need to know exactly where they are.
We’re talking about the Grassland Earless Dragon, a rare little lizard that is found on the Monaro tablelands, and needs our help to avoid extinction.
Tim McGrath of University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology was in the region recently distributing information about the endangered reptile, and informing locals about ‘Project Dragon’.
This is a local collaborative conservation project aimed to inform farmers, landholders and land managers about the Grassland Earless Dragon, and its risk of extinction.
“This little dragon is right on our back doorstep and the key to saving it from extinction is to inform farmers about the Grassland Earless Dragon and work with them to ensure its habitat is retained and managed long into the future,” Mr McGrath said.
“The Grassland Earless Dragon is definitely one of the most endangered species in south eastern Australia, very few people know about it and we want to change this.
“Its status and the level of threat that it faces are similar, if not more concerning, than other big concern species like the Leadbeater’s Possum in Victoria, the Tasmanian Devil and the Southern Cassowary in Queensland.”
Here’s what you need to know -
Save them from extinction: In fairy tales, dragons seem quite capable of looking after themselves; however the reality for Grassland Earless Dragons is quite different.
Good farming practices have allowed the Grassland Earless Dragon to survive in a very small number of areas, but overall the tiny dragon is in drastic decline and needs help to avoid extinction.
Farmers, landholders or land managers can help save this species from extinction.
A local treasure: The Grassland Earless Dragon was thought to be extinct
in south-eastern Australia until it was rediscovered accidentally near Queanbeyan in 1991.
Since then, the Dragon has been discovered in isolated patches of natural grasslands on the Monaro Tablelands of NSW around Cooma and Nimmitabel and in the Canberra and Queanbeyan regions.
Other potential habitat could include the local region around Bombala, Cathcart and surrounds.
A flagship species: The Grassland Earless Dragon is a grassland specialist. It is an endangered species under Commonwealth, State and
Territory legislation and is considered a flagship species for grassland conservation.
The species is a good indicator of the presence of valuable natural temperate grasslands and good native pasture condition in general.
Dragons need grasslands: Much of what was natural grassland in the region has been modified through the introduction and spread of invasive exotic species, unsympathetic grazing regimes, ploughing, pasture modification and fertilizer application.
This has led to the loss of species diversity and richness in much of the grasslands in south-eastern Australia.
About Project Dragon: Project Dragon is a collaborative effort by the Kosciuszkoto Coast partnership, ACT Herpetological Association, Friends of Grasslands, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology to inform private landholders of the existence of the natural and rare values of grasslands in the region and promote their protection and management so that generations to come can have the thrill of seeing a Grassland Earless Dragon!
To pass on information or get advice about the Grassland
Earless Dragon you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org