Race to save endangered species found only near Gympie
IN a Queensland first, the Department of Environment and Science is trialling a program which could bring an endangered species, found only near Gympie, back from the brink of extinction.
The Nangur spiny skink is a critically endangered reptile found in only two locations in south east Queensland; the Nangur National Park north-west of Goomeri, and a much smaller population in Oakview National Park and the adjacent Oakview State Forest between Goomeri and Gympie.
The lizards, which can grow to 19cm, live in burrows in these dry-rainforest locations, but their numbers in the wild have dwindled to around 3000.
In the last four years one known population of the lizard declined by more than 60 per cent, even with a range of actions aimed at protecting them in place.
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The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has announced it is trialling a captive breeding program in the hopes of saving the species from extinction.
DES ecologist Daniel Ferguson said 14 adult skinks were relocated to a specialised facility in Brisbane at the beginning of the year to participate in the program.
"With the cold weather lately, the skinks are currently inactive inside their burrows under rocks," Mr Ferguson said.
"They are acclimatising well to their new surroundings which includes soil and rocks from their home at the National Park.
"The purpose of the trial is to determine the feasibility of captive breeding in order to supplement the wild populations.
"The two populations of skinks represent two distinct genetic lineages and we will not be looking to cross breed them at this point in time.
Mr Ferguson said if the trial is successful they will begin breeding skinks from the more critical second population, however they won't know if the program has worked until early
The Nangur spiny skink is listed as critically endangered under the Nature Conservation Act and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and the trial is key to helping the skink population continue to survive in the wild.
There are a number of threats to them in their habitats, including bushfires, weeds, disease, and introduced predators like cats and foxes.