A dragon in need of a knight in shining armour
The Eastern Lined Earless Dragon is a small dragon lizard measuring up to 21cm in length. It is well camouflaged and each individual has unique back pattern markings. It eats mainly spiders and insects. It lives in and around grass tussocks as well as small holes in the ground that are also used by invertebrates such as wolf spiders and crickets.
In the past the Eastern Lined Earless Dragon was found near Melbourne, Rutherglen, Bathurst, Cooma and Canberra. Recent information suggests that it has disappeared from Victoria and Bathurst. Populations elsewhere are small and fragmented, and restricted to only three locations-the Majura and Jerrabomberra Valleys in the ACT and near Cooma in NSW.
In the Canberra-Monaro region the Eastern Lined Earless Dragon is found in natural temperate grassland that is dominated by perennial tussock-forming species
An estimated 99.5 per cent of Australia's natural temperate grasslands have been lost or grossly altered since European settlement. Only about 0.5 per cent or 1000 hectares of the ACT's original natural temperate grassland still remains and only a subset of this supports the Eastern Lined Earless Dragon.
The main threats to the continued survival of the species are:
- further loss and fragmentation of suitable habitat from urban expansion, development of transport infrastructure and changed agricultural practices such as the introduction of ploughing or addition of fertilizer;
- degradation of habitat from weed invasion and changed fire frequency; and
- predation by domestic and feral animals.
A conservation program is being undertaken by the ACT Government to protect a number of local populations of the Eastern Lined Earless Dragon. The program focuses on increasing understanding of the species' biology and its ecological needs so that management for conservation can be improved, and on protection of a range of grassland sites that are known to support the species.
You can help by:
- protecting remnant bush in your community or on your land to help provide habitat for all our native animals, including the Earless Dragon;
- supporting local efforts to conserve threatened species in your area by joining a local organisation such as a Landcare and catchment groups, natural history or a 'friends of' group or by volunteering for Green Corps or the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers;
- participating in special events, information nights, tree planting days and weed eradication programs.
To find out more about saving your state's threatened species check out the Threatened Species Network web site or call the Network's National Office on (02) 9281 5515.
You can also find out more information about Australia's threatened species by calling the Department of the Environment and Heritage's Community Information Unit on free call 1800 803 772