Thursday’s heat did nothing to deter 20 enthusiastic young volunteers from taking part in the first of a series of community events at Bradleys Head Reserve aimed at helping the area’s Eastern Water Dragons.

The event was organised as part of Dragons of Sydney Harbour, a new initiative run by the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) in partnership with Taronga Zoo, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Macquarie University and Greater Sydney Local Land Services. It seeks to conserve Sydney’s urban Water Dragons through revegetation and citizen science. 

“Water Dragons are an iconic and special part of our waterways. Sadly, they are under increasing threat from littering, predation by domestic animals, poor water quality and weed invasion. Through Dragons of Sydney Harbour, we will be working actively with the local community and students such as today’s group, to ensure that these special reptiles remain a part of our city,” says Geetha Ortac, NPA’s Citizen Science Officer.

The young volunteers were part of Taronga Zoo’s ‘Youth at the Zoo’ (YATZ) educational program, aimed at 13-19 year olds.

“It was great to have such a vibrant and willing group of teens take time out of their holidays to work hand-in-hand with us to help conserve their local dragons. Everyone got actively involved in the survey and enjoyed getting their hands dirty removing weeds and clearing litter to help improve and restore habitat for the reptiles,” said Geetha.

A series of similar events for local school and community groups will be run over the next six months at Bradleys Head as part of the project, with the next one scheduled on 28 January from 9.00am – 3.00pm.

“Participants will have the opportunity to take part in our citizen science survey to help provide new insights into the reptiles’ behaviour and physiology, after which they will join Conservation Volunteers Australia to do some valuable bush regeneration work,” says Geetha.

“Through Dragons of Sydney Harbour, we want to empower local residents to play a role in helping to conserve their neighbourhood dragons. It is not every city that can boast a metre- long, semi-aquatic lizard! Everyone can play a part; from keeping your cat in at night to helping to restore and enhance habitat, you can make a difference for these unique reptiles.”

‘Dragons of Sydney Harbour’ is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Additional funding will be sought to extend the Dragons of Sydney Harbour program into other areas.

To attend the next Dragons of Sydney Harbour event RSVP at http://bit.ly/dragonsofsydney

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