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Community & Business

16 May, 2023

Grant to help in hunt for elusive earless dragons

University researchers will use a specially trained detector dog to locate and study the endangered Condamine earless dragon on the Darling Downs.


The project was this week allocated State Government funding in the form of a $24,997 Community Sustainability Action grant. 

Dr April Reside,  Lecturer at the School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, University of Queensland, said conversations had begun last year with Rod Hobson, a Toowoomba-based authority on the species Tympanocryptis condaminensis,  and an Honours student, Laura Harms, who is studying the creatures. 

“What we learned is that they are really hard to find and unlike other species, these ones have this black cracking soil to hide in,” Dr Reside said.

“We wanted to look at how to increase the likelihood of finding them and that’s where the ideas for the dogs originated. 

“At the moment the only way to find them is looking with our eyes but we’re not sure if we’re finding them where they really are or just where we can see them.”

A special detector dog is being trained to sniff out the earless dragons with the aim of increasing the numbers found. 

Dr Reside said researchers hoped to engage members of the local community to be involved and contribute their knowledge of the species. 

The project team is aiming to come out in the spring to find examples of the animals which are unique to a small geographical area west of Toowoomba and south of Dalby that includes Mt Tyson and Cecil Plains. 

Dr Reside said the tiny species was a bit like a miniature bearded dragon, and was found nowhere
else in the world. 

“We want to know if they’re doing OK and what we can do to ensure they stick around for the future,” she said. 

Dr Reside said there was also potential for local schools to be involved. 

The State Government’s Community Sustainability Action Grant program provides funding to community organisations and individuals for innovative solutions that address climate change, protect wildlife and conserve the natural and built environment.  

The latest round of grants will also support more than 100 wildlife carers across the state to help care for vulnerable and threatened species.

Have you seen the Condamine earless dragons?

Dr Reside would love to hear from you via email  to a.reside@uq.edu.au


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