endangered species

Whilst we expect all punters to treat everyone equally including all animals and plants, it’s also important to know your surroundings to ensure no one disrupts these eco systems especially those that are listed as threatened species. If you, your friends or other doofers come across any of the species listed on this page then please take extra caution not to disrupt these animals or plants and to inform those who are unaware.

Threatened species are animals or plants that are facing threats to their survival and may be at risk of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies threatened species into different categories depending on their relative risk of extinction. The term “endangered” is one of these categories:

Critically Endangered (CR) – a species facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
Endangered (EN) – a species considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild
Vulnerable (VU) – a species considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

For more information on levels of threatened or endangered species and their definitions, visit the IUCN Red List website.

All of the following animals and plants are listed under the EPBC listed species (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act). Learn more

White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland

redgumgrassywoodland Status: Critically Endangered
Presence: Community likely to occur within area

Box Gum Grassy Woodlands and Derived Grasslands are characterised by a species-rich understorey of native tussock grasses, herbs and scattered shrubs, and the dominance, or prior dominance, of White Box, Yellow Box or Blakely’s Red Gum trees. The tree-cover is generally discontinuous and consists of widely-spaced trees of medium height in which the canopies are clearly separated.

Due to the high levels of clearing that have taken place, and continued grazing, large areas of healthy, regenerating overstorey are rare. Areas containing a number of mature trees or regenerating trees are important as they provide current/future breeding and foraging habitats for woodland animals, such as Regent Honeyeaters, Squirrel Gliders and Superb Parrots.

Regent Honeyeater

regenthoneyeater Anthochaera Phrygia
Status: Endangered (Listed as Threatened in Victoria under the FFG Act)
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Regent Honeyeater has a black head, neck and upper breast, a lemon yellow back and breast scaled black, with the underparts grading into a white rump, black wings with conspicuous yellow patches and a black tail edged yellow.

They are typically of single birds, and probably represent drought-induced dispersal caused by a reduction or failure in the flowering of food plants within the normal range of the species. In 2011, the Regent Honeyeater’s population was estimated with medium reliability at 350–400 mature birds. Previous estimates include 500–1500, 800–2000 and 1500. In north-east Victoria there are probably fewer than ten pairs and in the Bundarra-Barraba region of NSW, there were about 30 birds in 2007–2010.

Australasian Bittern

australasianbittern Botaurus Poiciloptilus
Status: Endangered
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Australasian Bittern is a large, stocky, thick-necked heron-like bird with camouflage-like plumage. Individuals grow to a length of 66–76 cm, with a wingspan of 1050–1180 cm. Males weigh up to 1400 g and females weigh up to 900 g. The upperparts of the body are brown, dark brown to black and mottled buff in complex patterns that aid the bird’s concealment in swamp vegetation. The underparts of the body are streaked and scalloped brown and buff. The bird has a prominent black-brown stripe running down the side of the neck, the eyebrow is pale, and the chin and upper throat are white. The species’ bill is straight and pointed, straw yellow to buff in colour, with a dark grey culmen (dorsal ridge of the bill). The legs and feet are pale green to olive; and the iris orange-brown or yellow.

The Australasian Bittern is generally solitary, but sometimes occurs in pairs or dispersed aggregations of up to 12 birds. It is probably sedentary in permanent habitats, but some individuals possibly make regular short-distance movements during winter, and occasional movements to inland areas have been recorded during extensive flooding.

Swift Parrot

swiftparrot Lathamus Discolour
Status: Endangered
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Swift Parrot is mostly bright green in colour, with dark-blue patches on the crown, a prominent red face, and the chin and throat are narrowly bordered with yellow. It is approximately 25 cm in length, the wingspan is 32 to 36 cm and it weighs about 65g. It is a slim, medium-sized parrot with angular pointed wings and a slender tail giving it the characteristic streamlined flight-silhouette. Although the Swift Parrot superficially resembles lorikeets in habit and form (nectar feeder with brush tongue), it is generally accepted that the similarities between the Swift Parrot and the lorikeets have arisen through convergence.

The Swift Parrot is endemic to south-eastern Australia. It breeds only in Tasmania, and migrates to mainland Australia in autumn for the non-breeding season, undertaking the longest migration of any parrot species in the world. In Victoria, it is found in dry forests and woodlands of the box-ironbark region of the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range, mainly between Stawell in the central west and Wodonga in the north-east.

Australian Painted Snipe

australianpaintedsnipe Rostratula Australis
Status: Endangered
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Australian Painted Snipe is a stocky wading bird around 220–250 mm in length with a long pinkish bill. The adult female, more colourful than the male, has a chestnut-coloured head, with white around the eye and a white crown stripe, and metallic green back and wings, barred with black and chestnut. There is a pale stripe extending from the shoulder into a V down its upper back. The adult male is similar to the female, but is smaller and duller with buff spots on the wings and without any chestnut colouring on the head, nape or throat.

The area of occupancy of the Australian Painted Snipe is estimated, with low reliability, to be 1000 km². The area of occupancy has undoubtedly declined as approximately 50% of wetlands in Australia have been removed since European settlement. It is difficult to pinpoint locations of decline because the Australian Painted Snipe has been recorded in recent years at scattered sites throughout much of its historical range, and is recorded only infrequently at most sites, the latter making it difficult to determine if its absence from a site is temporary or permanent.

Typical habitats include those with rank emergent tussocks of grass, sedges, rushes or reeds, or samphire; often with scattered clumps of lignum Muehlenbeckia or canegrass or sometimes tea-tree (Melaleuca). The Australian Painted Snipe sometimes utilises areas that are lined with trees, or that have some scattered fallen or washed-up timber.

Growling Grass Frog, Southern Bell Frog, Green & Golden Frog, Warty Swamp Frog

Litoria Raniformis
growlinggrassfrogStatus: Vulnerable
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Growling Grass Frog is one of the largest frog species in Australia. It reaches up to 104 mm in length, with females usually larger than males. Growling Grass Frogs vary in colour and pattern but in general are olive to bright emerald green, with irregular gold, brown, black or bronze spotting. Their backs are warty and usually have a pale green mid-dorsal stripe. The eardrum is pronounced. A cream or yellow stripe underlined by a dark brown stripe runs from the nostril, through the eye, above the inner ear and down the sides of the body to the groin as a dorso-lateral fold.

The species was previously widespread across Victoria and was absent only from the western desert regions and the eastern alpine regions. The species has disappeared from most of its former range across Victoria and persists in isolated populations in the greater Melbourne area, in the south-west of Victoria and a few sites in central Victoria and Gippsland.

Survey’s undertaken for Litoria raniformis within the Merri Creek Corridor, Melbourne, Victoria, and adjacent catchments between December 2001 and March 2003 revealed 208 Growling Grass Frogs at 43 sites. A targeted survey of Cowies Creek in 2009–2010 detected a previously unknown, large population of approximately 47 adults. There is a stable population at Fraser Swamp, adjacent to the Glenelg River near Balmoral.

Golden Sun Moth

goldensunmoth Synemon Plana
Status: Vulnerable
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Golden Sun Moth is a medium-sized, day-flying moth. The wingspan of females and males is about 3.1 cm and 3.4 cm respectively. The smaller wingspan of the female is unique within the Synemon genus. The upper-side of the forewing is dark grey with patterns of paler grey scales, and the hindwing is bright orange/brown with black spots along the edges of the wings. The underside of both wings is white with small black spots along the edge of the wings.

The Golden Sun Moth is known from 125 extant sites across its range and subsequent surveys in 2009 and 2010 have recorded more sites in Victoria and the ACT. At a minimum, 45 sites occur in Victoria, 48 sites occur in NSW and 32 sites occur in the ACT, with more sites on the Victoria Volcanic Plains being recorded in 2009 and 2010. The majority of the known sites are smaller than 5 ha. Fifty-six of the known sites lie in a narrow area 100 km long by 30 km wide.

Suitable habitat for the Golden Sun Moth includes native temperate grassland and open grassy woodlands dominated by wallaby grass. Less than 1% of temperate native grasslands remain. As a result, the remaining Golden Sun Moth populations are highly reduced and fragmented.

Grey-headed Flying-fox

greyheadedflyingfox Pteropus Poliocephalus
Status: Vulnerable
Presence: Species may occur within area

The Grey-headed Flying-Fox is one of the largest bats in the world with a weight of 600–1000 g and a head-body length of 230–289 mm. It is the only Australian flying-fox that has a collar of orange/brown fully encircling its neck. Thick leg fur extends to the ankle, in contrast to other Pteropus species in which it only reaches the knee. As its name implies, the head is covered by light grey fur. The belly fur is grey, often with flecks of white and ginger. The fur on the back shows two morphs which could be related to age, moult or sub-population. One morph has dark grey fur and the other has a pronounced silver or frosted appearance.

Some individuals can be difficult to distinguish from the Black Flying-fox (Pteropus Alecto), with which the Grey-headed Flying-Fox sometimes hybridises. The Grey-headed Flying-fox is Australia’s only endemic flying-fox and occurs in the coastal belt from Rockhampton in central Queensland to Melbourne in Victoria. However, only a small proportion of this range is used at any one time, as the species selectively forages where food is available. As a result, patterns of occurrence and relative abundance within its distribution vary widely between seasons and between years. The species is widespread throughout their range in summer, whilst in autumn it occupies coastal lowlands and is uncommon inland.

Pink-tailed Worm-lizard, Pink-tailed Legless Lizard

pinktailedwormlizard Aprasia Parapulchella
Status: Vulnerable
Presence: Species or species habitat likely to occur within area

The Pink-tailed Worm-lizard is a cryptic fossorial (lives underground) reptile that can grow to 14 cm. The dark brown head and nape gradually merges with the pale grey or grey-brown body. The end half of its tail is pinkish/reddish-brown, and the longitudinal dark bar within each dorsal scale gives the impression of lines of dots along the body and tail. It is whitish below, with a rounded blunt snout, and its tail is nearly as long as its body.

The Pink-tailed Worm-lizard is known from a patchy distribution along the foothills of the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range and are most commonly found sheltering under small rocks (15–60 cm basal area) shallowly embedded in the soil (2–5 cm). Some individuals have been found under larger rocks embedded up to 30 cm deep. Rocks are used for thermoregulation, with lizards preferring rocks that receive direct sunlight.

Most sites where Pink-tailed Worm-lizard occurs are characterised by the cover of predominantly native grasses. Pink-tailed Worm-lizard is threatened by a reduction in the cover of native grasses. Sites which have undergone pasture improvement typically have a thick cover of introduced grasses and weeds, and support few, if any, lizards. Heavy grazing can degrade habitat by selective removal of native grasses and nitrification from faeces, leading to a reduced cover of native species, however, the species still persists at some sites with a long grazing history.

Striped Legless Lizard

stripedleglesslizard Delma impar
Status: Vulnerable
Presence: Species likely to occur within area

The Striped Legless Lizard is a member of the family Pygopodidae, the legless or flap-footed lizards. As with other members of the legless lizard family, Striped Legless Lizards lack forelimbs and have only very reduced hind limbs. These hind limbs are apparent only as small flaps on either side of the vent. Superficially, these animals resemble snakes, but can be readily distinguished from the latter by the presence of external ear openings, a fleshy undivided tongue and a tail which is longer than the body. Striped Legless Lizards can be readily distinguished from other legless lizards by body colouration, body size and head scalation.

The Striped Legless Lizard is a pale-grey lizard up to 30 cm in length, with a maximum snout-vent length of about 12 cm. The species have a long thin body and the tail, when unbroken, is about twice the length of the body. They have a series of stripes on their sides and the sides of their back, becoming diagonal bands on the tail. These stripes are dark-brown or blackish and extend the whole length of the individual from the neck to the tail. The head is generally darker than the body, tending to black in juveniles. The underside of Striped Legless Lizards is whitish and they have a blunt snout.

There are few population size estimates available for this species. It was reported that less than 1000 individuals had been recorded from 90 sites in 1995, however more recent studies indicate that the population may be larger. A study of the species at Iramoo Wildlife Reserve near Melbourne has estimated the average population size to be approximately 600 which is considered to be an underestimate. Thus the total number of individuals of this species is unknown, but likely to be in excess of 1000 individuals. The Striped Legless Lizard prefers to locate to dense grasslands.

Spiral Sun-orchid

spiralsunorchid Thelymitra Matthewsii
Status: Vulnerable
Presence: Species may occur within area

The Spiral Sun-orchid has a slender green flower stem growing to 20 cm tall. Flowers are solitary (rarely two) and bluish purple with darker stripes, its column being purplish with a bright yellow tip.

Thelymitra matthewsii is currently known to occur in Victoria, South Australia and NZ. Throughout its range the species is rare and of sporadic distribution.

In Victoria it is scattered across the south of the state in open forests and woodlands in well-drained sand and clay loams. It is a post-disturbance coloniser that is usually found in open areas around old quarries and gravel pits, on road verges, disused tracks and animal trails. It has been recorded as growing on gravely soils in disturbed areas of low coastal forest, in swampy soils, on lateritic podsol on gently sloping plateaus or from sand overlying limestone on undulating plain.

As a post-disturbance coloniser, populations have generally demonstrated a decline in the total number of plants, and the number of flowering individuals, following their initial discovery. As old colonies decline, new colonies will become established if freshly disturbed sites are available nearby.

Clover Glycine, Purple Clover

cloverglycine Glycine Latrobeana
Status: Vulnerable (Listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988).
Presence: Species may occur within area

Clover Glycine is a small perennial herb with leaves that look similar to common pasture clover. Low growing, it first spreads horizontally then becomes erect or continues horizontally with the ends growing upwards. The leaves are round and grouped into three leaflets (trifoliate), similar to clover; the leaflets can be up to 20 mm long and 12 mm wide.

A distinguishing feature is the stipules (pair of outgrowths occurring at base of leaf stalk) that are egg or kidney shaped and wrap around the stem. The flowers are purple to pink, pea like, and up to 6 mm long. The fruit are small pods which contain three to five ovoid seeds approximately 3 mm long. The pods are between 15 to 25 mm long and covered with short hairs.

The distribution of Clover Glycine is sporadic but widespread across south-eastern Australia. In Victoria it is widespread in the north-east, Gippsland, central Victoria and western Victoria regions but not the north-west quarter. Overall, populations occur in lowland grasslands, grassy woodlands and sometimes in grassy heath.

Plains Rice-flower, Spiny Rice-flower, Prickly Pimelea

plainsriceflower Pimelea Spinescens subsp. Spinescens
Status: Critically Endangered
Presence: Species may occur within area

The Spiny Rice-flower is a stunted sub-shrub that grows 5–30 cm in height. It has small, pale yellow flowers and a thick perennial rootstock. It has small, green, elliptical leaves, up to 10 mm long and 3 mm wide, and the stems are tipped with spines. The large tap root can be up to 1.5 m deep.

The Spiny Rice-flower is endemic to Victoria, and occurs in lowland grassland, grassy woodland and open shrublands from south-western to north-central Victoria. The Spiny Rice-flower is most often found within the ecological community Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain, a critically endangered ecological community listed under the EPBC Act.

Almost all currently known populations are small. This species has a very restricted area of occupancy, estimated to be 5.7 km² with an upper limit estimated to be 10 km². Populations are substantially fragmented, due to historical land clearance for settlement, industry and agriculture. The number of mature individuals of Spiny Rice-flower is estimated at 55 000, occurring over 184 sites. The majority of sites support very small populations of less than 100 plants. This species is slow growing and may live up to 100 years. The species is very rare in terms of abundance and distribution. Almost all populations are small and most occur on road and rail reserves, with others on private property.

Greencomb Spider-orchid, Rigid Spider-orchid

greencombspiderorchid Caladenia Tensa
Status: Endangered
Presence: Species may occur within area

The Greencomb Spider-orchid is a perennial orchid growing to 30 cm in height when flowering. Its flowers are usually single, 5 cm across and perianth segments are green with crimson median stripes. Sepals of the species are dull yellow in colour with indistinct osmophores and grow to 1 cm in length. The top sepal is erect over the column, and the lateral sepals project forward and down. Petals are shorter and spread behind the flower. The labellum is pale yellowish to white, trilobed, with a maroon tip and 4 rows of uncrowded, stalked, clubbed red calli. The lateral lobes are not extensive, with a long green fringe basally and marginal teeth on the shorter, paler midlobe.

Habitat destruction is the major threat to the species as it occupies broad riverine plains habitats (of central and western Victoria) on reasonably fertile soils. These habitats have been cleared for agricultural production over large parts of the species’ range. Extant populations tend to occupy fragmented forests and woodlands within predominantly agricultural landscapes. It is this fragmentation, and the associated degradation, that represent the greatest threat to the long-term conservation of this species. The remaining populations are threatened by weed invasions, browsing by introduced and native herbivores (for example kangaroos (Macropus spp.) and the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)) and human interference.