Enter the Dragon
Tuesday, 12th March, 2019
By Callum Marshall
The Barrier Field Naturalists Club is tonight running a free information session about the rare Barrier Range Dragon, an endangered reptile.
The session will be hosted by Australian Herpetologists (reptile experts) Gerry Swan and Ross Sadlier.
“The Barrier Range Dragon was only prescribed about five years ago and until then it was thought to be an outlying population of a South Australian Rock Dragon,” said Mr Swan.
“But DNA work found that it was completely different. It was only known within the Broken Hill and the Barrier Ranges out at Mutawintji.
“Work is being done to try and monitor it, because it’s endemic to just this region.
“The Department of Environment and Heritage have also put it on an endangered species list because of its limited distribution. It’s quite threatened by goats and work is being done (to protect it.)
Mr Swan said the department was interested in getting further observations about the dragon.
“We’re hoping with this discussion it’ll give people an idea of what this dragon is like, where it occurs, what sort of habitat it’s found in, and those sorts of things.
“If we can find that it occurs in other places, that increases its chances of hanging on and living.”
Mr Swan said goats disrupted the reptile’s natural habitat.
“Goats are a threat because the Barrier Range Dragons are only found in very rocky areas, rock outcrops and ranges, places where there are lots of crevices and cracks that they can hide in.
“Goats roaming around can break down the rock and goat poo. Copious quantities of it have a tendency to fill all the crevices when there’s wind and rain.
Mr Swan said the male dragons were particularly colourful, especially during breeding season.
“The male and the female are quite different,” he said. “The male is quite spectacularly coloured.”
“In the breeding season he’s got a sort of bright orange colouration on his head.
“He sits out in conspicuous places and guards his habitat, keeping an eye on the females.
“The female is quite drab. She keeps a very low profile to lie down; after all, she is carrying the eggs and is more concerned about the survival of the species whereas the male sits up there and probably gets knocked off by hawks and all sorts of things.”
The information night will also present information about other endangered reptiles and a very handy phone application.
“There’ll be a phone app which will be made available at this presentation where if you see one of these dragons, or another reptile, you can photograph it and the app will automatically take GPS coordinates and send those through,” said Mr Swan.
Ross Sadlier will be speaking on some of the other endangered reptiles around the Broken Hill area.
“There are quite a few actually, which are very little known and probably regarded as endangered or vulnerable,” Mr Swan saad.
“Ross will be speaking about a few of those and making people aware of them - what they look like and that sort of thing.
“Overall, the session is just about making people aware of the dragon, and they can ask as many questions as they want.”
WHAT: Barrier Range Dragon info session
WHEN: Tonight, 6:45-8:30 with refreshments and mingle until 9pm
WHERE: Broken Hill Centre for Community, Beryl St