A major push to save the Striped Legless Lizard, a
small endangered creature unique to grasslands of southeastern Australia,
is underway in south western Victoria.
A dedicated recovery team consisting of the Department
of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), RMIT University Ecology
Research Group and Greening Australia is aiming to locate and preserve
the remaining populations of the Striped Legless Lizard by working
with landholders to protect and improve its habitat.
DSE Threatened Species Project Officer Garry Peterson
said the team was looking for the assistance of landholders in the
Corangamite and Glenelg Hopkins catchments to help determine Striped
Legless Lizard populations.
"We are surveying for areas of habitat on private
property, such as remnant native grasslands or rocky terrain, where
the Striped Legless Lizard may be living.
"Once an area of potential habitat for the endangered
lizard is identified, we consider establishing a monitoring transect,
consisting of 50 roof tiles arranged in a 20 by 50 meter grid. Information
collected from these transects will provide a record of the current
distribution and status of the Striped Legless Lizard in the Corangamite
and Glenelg Hopkins catchments," he said.
"We are particularly keen for landowners who
think they have already sighted this creature or have remanent grassland
on their properties and who would not mind having a few roofing
tiles placed in their paddocks to contact us."
"The Legless Lizards like to get under the roof
tiles because the tile retains heat, which allows us to successfully
sample this otherwise difficult-to-detect species," he said.
The Striped Legless Lizard is a medium-sized (up to
300mm), snake-like lizard, pale grey-brown in colour with a series
of light and dark parallel stripes running down the sides of its
body. It is extremely cryptic and rarely seen in its grassland habitat
as it shelters in soil cracks, crevices under rocks, or in the base
of grass tussocks.
Mr Peterson said widespread habitat destruction has
been the major cause of the decline of the Striped Legless Lizard
and the fragmentation of its grassland habitat.
"The grassland habitat of the Striped Legless
Lizard in southwestern Victoria has been extensively modified due
to clearing of vegetation, heavy grazing, pasture improvement, weed
invasion and rock removal."
Known from only a handful of sites in southwestern
Victoria, ongoing monitoring and previous surveys have shown that
the Striped Legless Lizard has disappeared from a number of historic
The recovery team is currently working with landholders
around Hamilton, Casterton and Coleraine and wants to expand the
project across the southwest.
"We would like to engender a sense of ownership
of this creature in the landholder, with the landholder having an
added appreciation of their property as home to one of Australia's
threatened grassland specialist species," Mr Peterson said.
Community enquiries regarding the lizard, its habitat
and DSE's project can be made to Cath Grant, DSE Striped Legless
Lizard Project Officer, phone Colac 5233 5591.
Source: Media Release from the Department of
Sustainability and Environment