Australia discovers grassland earless dragons

A small species of reptile grassland earless dragons that had not been seen in Victoria for more than half a century and was believed to be extinct in the wild has been found again.

Today, the Labor governments of Albanese and Andrews made a historic announcement on the finding of a population of Victorian grassland earless dragons. This discovery offers a glimmer of hope for the severely endangered species, which was not seen in the wild since 1969.

They were once quite widespread in the native grasslands west of Melbourne, but their numbers have since decreased due to the destruction of their habitat and the introduction of predators such as foxes and feral cats.

The location of the newly discovered population cannot be disclosed in order to preserve both the habitat and the species. However, surveys are currently being conducted at the rediscovery site in order to gain a better understanding of the population size. The Andrews Labor Government, along with the Albanese Government and Zoos Victoria, are working together to devise a strategy that will ensure the recovery of the species.

The governments of Albanese and Andrews have committed $188,000 to a new initiative that will test out the employment of specially trained detection dogs. The goal of the research is to find more populations of the dragon, which will assist in determining the appropriate amount of conservation efforts. Zoos Victoria is also in the process of establishing a conservation breeding program to ensure that the species does not become extinct once more.

Under both the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act of 1988 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999, the Victorian grassland earless dragon is protected as a species that is considered to be in a critical state of extinction.

The Albanese Labor Government is delivering the largest investment in the environment ever made. This investment includes $1.2 billion for the Great Barrier Reef, $224.5 million for our Saving Native Species Program, an additional $262.3 million for national parks, $200 million to improve our urban rivers and catchments, and $440 million through the Natural Heritage Trust to conserve endangered species and ecosystems.

The Andrews Labor Government is investing more money than ever before in Victoria’s environment and biodiversity, both through a program called Biodiversity 2037 and by making a record investment of $582 million since 2014.

This includes the $77 million BushBank program, which will restore natural environments and habitats across Victoria through the planting of millions of native plants and trees, and the more than $10.6 million that will be used to support conservation projects for 22 of Victoria’s icon species, as part of the Icon Species and Faunal Emblem Programs. Both of these programs are part of the Icon Species and Faunal Emblem Programs.

Tanya Plibersek, who is the Minister for Environment and Water of the Commonwealth stated that she wished to “protect our precious creatures for the sake of our children and grandchildren.” The fact that the Victorian grassland earless dragon has been found again is very exciting information to receive. This serves as a good reminder of the reasons why it is so crucial to invest in the restoration of habitats and the eradication of invasive animals such as cats and foxes.

We need to know where they are so that we can provide the most effective support possible for the recovery of the Victorian grassland earless dragon. The use of detection dogs is an efficient and non-intrusive method that can be used in the wild to locate this highly cryptic and critically endangered reptile.

I am happy to let you know that the Federal Labor Government will be providing a contribution of $98,000 to this endeavour in order to locate populations of the rare dragons.

“This is an amazing discovery and offers an opportunity for us to recover a species that was once thought lost to both our state and the world!” said the Victorian Minister for the Environment, Ingrid Stitt.

“We will continue to battle the extinction of this highly endangered species with the support of our partners. This will ensure that our future generations will have the opportunity to observe and learn about this extremely distinctive lizard.

“We will not relent in our efforts to safeguard Victoria’s most defenceless animals and ensure that future generations will have a chance to appreciate them,”

“The extraordinary rediscovery of this critically endangered and cryptic lizard inspires optimism for the recovery of this Victorian species,” Dr Jenny Gray, the Chief Executive Officer of Zoos Victoria, said. “Zoos Victoria is proud to be lending years of expertise honed through the breeding recovery program at Melbourne Zoo for Canberra dragons.”

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