Dragons of Sydney is a citizen science project that aims to protect urban wildlife by increasing our understanding of how some species are able to survive in highly urbanised areas. Urbanisation often leads to biodiversity losses and reptiles, in particular, are known to be negatively impacted by urbanisation. However for some reason, Eastern Water Dragons (Intellagama lesueurii lesuerii) are able to survive in highly urbanised areas. The Dragons of Sydney program, in collaboration with PhD student James Baxter-Gilbert (Macquarie University), uses citizen scientists to help collect data which directly contributes to understanding how this species is able to survive in urbanised areas in Sydney.

Our program takes small groups of citizen scientists on Eastern Water Dragon surveys, where we collect demographic and behavioural data. We additionally improve the condition of habitat for water dragons through activities like bush regeneration and rubbish collection. By engaging citizen scientists in the data collection process, we are able to contribute new knowledge to science while teaching participants about their local water dragon populations and highlighting the threats to their survival. These events therefore help promote the conservation of habitat for wildlife in urban areas.

I enjoyed learning about the Water Dragons and being part of a project. I also enjoyed seeing our actions making an immediate and positive change to the environment.

– Stephanie Liang, Member (YATZ)

A broad range of citizen scientists have participated in the Dragons of Sydney program including corporate and school groups, local environmental groups and community members. Groups that have already participated include: Youth at the Zoo (YATZ), Northern Beaches Secondary College MacKellar Girls Campus, Friends of Cabbage Tree Bay, Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Campus, Centennial Park School, Queenwood School for Girls, Park Hyatt Sydney, NPA NSW Interns and members of the local community.

We ran our first event in January 2016. Since then, we have successfully run a total of twelve events. Project activities have included citizen science surveys, community outreach events, bush regeneration work and rubbish collection. During the 12 events we have recorded information about 166 water dragons! All demographic data collected is uploaded to NSW BioNet and is publically available.

Get Involved/Find Out More

To find out more about ‘Dragons of Sydney  visit Dragons of Sydney


Dragons of Sydney is run by the National Parks Association of NSW, in collaboration with Macquarie University and is supported by Envirocomm Connections and the Manly Environment Centre. The Dragons of Sydney project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust