Rare animal believed to be ‘extinct’ is miraculously found in the wild: ‘This is an amazing discovery!’
- Aussie reptile feared extinct found alive
- Animal last seen alive in 1969
A population of critically-endangered Victorian grassland earless dragons thought to have been extinct in the wild have been rediscovered.
Not seen since 1969, the ‘energetic’ reptile, measuring just 15cm from head to tail, was once widespread in native grasslands west of Melbourne but numbers dwindled due to habitat loss and predation.
On Sunday, Victorian environment minister Ingrid Stitt announced a surviving population of the species had been found – the location of which is being kept secret.
The little dragon is light brown with three white stripes running down and a number of darker bands running across its body. Picture: Zoos Victoria.
‘This is an amazing discovery and offers an opportunity for us to recover a species once thought lost to our state and the world,’ Ms Stitt said.
Zoos Victoria had been actively searching for the dragon since 2017 and are now planning to establish a plan to ensure the species survival.
Chief executive Dr Jenny Gray described finding the reptile in the wild as ‘extraordinary’.
‘The extraordinary rediscovery of this critically endangered and cryptic lizard inspires optimism for the recovery of this Victorian species,’ she said.
She said Melbourne Zoo had spent years developing expertise through a breeding recovery program using populations from the ACT and NSW, and would now establish a conservation breeding program to ensure the species is not lost again.
On Sunday, Victorian environment minister Ingrid Stitt announced a surviving population of the species had been found – the location of which is being kept secret
Announcing a joint $180,000 investment with the federal government to trial specially trained detection dogs to search for any other existing wild populations, Ms Stitt said the discovery was an opportunity to recover a species once thought lost.
‘With the help of our partners we will continue to fight the extinction of this critically endangered species – ensuring future generations can see and learn about this incredibly unique lizard,’ she said.