Vote for your favourite NSW threatened species: Round 1

Bananas for the barking owl? Potty for long-nosed potoroos? Now’s your chance to help our native plants and animals step into the limelight – cast your vote to help your favourite become crowned the Saving our Species Threatened Species of the Year.

Smoky Mouse (Pseudomys fumeus), critically endangered

Each of the nearly 1000 threatened species in NSW has a role to play in creating a healthy natural environment and needs our protection.

At Saving our Species (SoS), we want more people in NSW to know and care about our threatened plants and animals, so we’ve scoured our website analytics to find out which 30 species you’ve been searching for the most, and now we want you to pick your favourite!

Read more about these 30 unique and amazing threatened species below, then cast your vote. Your choice will help to determine the top 10 NSW threatened species for the second round of voting.

The top 10 species will be announced on 10 May, followed by the winning species on World Environment Day (5 June).

Regardless of which species wins, by taking part in the vote you're helping spread understanding and love for these species that we're working hard to conserve.

You can only vote for one plant or animal – so make it count!

Vote now

 

Barking owl

Barking owl (Ninox connivens)Scientific name: Ninox connivens

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The barking owl is a medium-sized bird of prey that has a characteristic voice with calls ranging from a barking dog noise to a shrill human-like howl of a screaming woman. This owl is brown with white spots on its wings and a vertically streaked chest. It has large eyes that have a yellow iris.

Distribution: Although still common in parts of northern Australia, in NSW, the barking owl occurs in wide but sparse locations around the western slopes and plains and in some northeast coastal and escarpment forests.

Habitat and ecology: They prefer to live in forests or woodland areas often near river, swamp or creek beds. Although barking owls are uncommon and sometimes even rare in many suburban areas, they occasionally may start to nest in streets or near farmhouses. Barking owls are monogamous and form strong pair bonds that last for life.

Threats: The main threat to barking owls is the loss of habitat, particularly the deterioration or loss of the large, hollow-bearing trees on which these birds depend for nesting. Hollows suitable for nesting for owls do not form in eucalypts until they are at least 150–200 years old.

What is SoS doing? SoS is addressing the loss and degradation of barking owl habitat by promoting the retention of large old trees. In regions where high priority barking owl populations can be increased and stabilised, improving habitat quality and installing nest boxes to create more barking owl sheltering sites is another key action.

Broad-headed snake

Broad-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides)Scientific name: Hoplocephalus bungaroides

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The broad-headed snake is black with numerous yellow markings arranged in irregular, narrow crossbands. It is a nocturnal animal and feeds on lizards and frogs.

Distribution: The broad-headed snake is found in the Sydney Basin and throughout a 250km radius from Sydney. The snake is quite sedentary and during winter, when it lives under bush rock or in crevices, it doesn’t move much at all and waits for food to come to it.

Habitat and ecology: The broad-headed snake spends most of its life near the rocks, especially sandstone rocks, and may give birth to 8–20 live young at a time.

Threats: Bush rock removal and disturbance severely impacts on sheltering and foraging sites for the snake and results in loss of habitat.

What is SoS doing: SoS has an active project in place to help educate the local Sydney community about the importance of bush rock to help maintain key habitat for the snake. Rocks are homes to a range of wildlife and should be left untouched.

Broad-toothed rat

Broad-toothed rat (Mastacomys fuscus)Scientific name: Mastacomys fuscus

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: A compact rodent, chubby-cheeked, with a short, wide face and ears, and long, dense, fine fur. Who said rats couldn’t be cute?!

Distribution: In NSW the broad-toothed rat occurs in 2 widely separated areas: the wet alpine and subalpine heaths and woodlands in Kosciuszko National Park, adjacent nature reserves (Bimberi NR and Scabby NR) and State Forest (Buccleuch SF) in the south of the State; and on the Barrington Tops, north-west of Newcastle.

Habitat and ecology: The broad-toothed rat lives in a complex of constructed vegetation runways through the dense grass, sedge or heath environments and under the snow at higher elevations. This relatively warm under-snow space enables it to be active throughout winter.

Threats: Foxes, introduced herbivores, altered fire regimes, ski resort development and the impacts of climate change pose key threats to the habitat and survival of the broad-toothed rat.

What is SoS doing? SoS is undertaking a fox and feral cat control program targeting known high-quality habitat and recently disturbed potential habitat to help the survival of the broad-toothed rat. Management programs are also being undertaken to reduce the impacts of feral pigs and deer in habitat areas.

Brush-tailed rock-wallaby

Brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) in mid leapScientific name: Petrogale penicillata

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The brush-tailed rock-wallaby has a characteristic long and bushy, dark rufous-brown tail that is bushier towards its tip. This wallaby is highly agile and can move swiftly and confidently through rugged areas, helped by their compact, muscular build, long and flexible tail that is used for balance and their well-padded and rough textured feet that provide excellent traction.

Distribution: In NSW, they occur from the Queensland border in the north to the Shoalhaven in the south, with the population in the Warrumbungle Ranges being the western limit.

Habitat and ecology: Occupy rocky escarpments, outcrops and cliffs and shelter or bask during the day in rock crevices, caves and overhangs and are most active at night when foraging. Females settle in or near their mother's range, while males mainly disperse between female groups within colonies, and less commonly between colonies. You can watch this wallaby in action on our brush-tailed rock-wallaby cam.

Threats: Include predation by foxes and wild dogs; competition for forage and refuge areas with feral goats; loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat; fire regimes that reduce the abundance and diversity of ground forage; and infestation by invasive weeds causing loss and degradation of foraging habitat.

What is SoS doing? To lend a much-needed hand to this wallaby after the devastating 2019–20 bushfires, SoS, NPWS rangers and partners delivered more than three tonnes of sweet potatoes, carrots and lucerne to colonies across NSW. Monitoring cameras and GPS collars confirmed the entire colony of brush-tailed rock-wallabies in Kangaroo Valley survived the bushfires, with expert assessment showing the wallabies were in good health. SoS and NPWS are also working to control foxes, feral herbivores and weeds to help protect the wallaby and its habitat.

Cumberland Plain land snail

Cumberland Plain land snail (Meridolum corneovirens)Scientific name: Meridolum corneovirens

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: Superficially similar to the familiar garden Snail, the Cumberland Plain land snail differs as this snail is a fungi specialist and unlike the garden snail, it will not eat the lettuce in your garden!

Distribution: Lives in fragmented bushland on the Cumberland Plain west of Sydney, from Richmond and Windsor south to Picton and from Liverpool west to the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers at the base of the Blue Mountains.

Habitat and ecology: Lives under litter of bark, leaves and logs, or shelters in loose soil around grass clumps and can dig several centimetres into soil to escape drought. It is most active at night.

Threats: Removal of leaf litter, logs and spraying herbicide chemicals in native bushland for weed control can negatively impact the Cumberland Plain land snails' sheltering sites.

What is SoS doing? A large conservation project is in place to protect the whole Cumberland Plain and as part of that, actions and protections are in place for the Cumberland Plain land snail so their habitat is maintained and enhanced and the surrounding community are aware and understand about the importance of this snail.

Dusky woodswallow

Dusky woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus cyanopterus)Scientific name: Artamus cyanopterus cyanopterus

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The dusky woodswallow is a smoky deep brown to grey bird. This species roosts communally and sometimes migrates in groups (like birds of a feather, they stick together!), however they forage solitarily. Large flocks may form around abundant food sources in winter and prior to migration and clusters of hundreds of roosting birds have been reported. They are partially migratory, some parts of the population migrate seasonally, others do not.

Distribution: The species occurs throughout most of NSW, but is sparsely scattered in, or largely absent from, much of the upper western region.

Habitat and ecology: Most commonly found in eucalypt forest and woodland, although may also be observed in more open habitats where they occur on the edge of forest and woodland, and occasionally in most other habitats including heaths, scrubs and even rainforest. Although the dusky woodswallow often occurs in flocks, it is a surprisingly bold species, being prepared to take on and mob potential predators, and well as rapidly repelling competing woodswallows from their nesting territory. During the breeding season, they may chase other dusky woodswallows from their nest sites, and they have even been observed fighting in territorial disputes. Primarily eats invertebrates (mostly insects) which are captured on the wing but will also pounce on insects from a perch. Also occasionally takes nectar, manna, fruit and seeds.

Threats: Historical and ongoing loss of woodlands and habitat degradation from weeds, removal of coarse woody debris and dead timber, loss of food as a result of over-grazing and loss of leaf litter and declining insect populations is threatening this bird’s survival.

What is SoS doing? SoS is working with landholders and communities to raise awareness of this bird and to engage them in proactive management and monitoring of the species' population on their land. Restoring degraded habitat using techniques such as weed control, grazing and fire management, and where necessary, supplementary plantings, are other key actions undertaken by SoS.

Eastern Australian undergound orchid

Eastern Australian underground orchid (Rhizanthella slateri)Scientific name: Rhizanthella slateri

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: An orchid with a whitish, fleshy underground stem, growing up to 15cm long. Each flower head has up to 30, tubular, purplish flowers. The flowering heads mature below the soil surface and may penetrate the soil surface for a few weeks each year.

Distribution: In NSW, the orchid is currently known from fewer than 10 locations, including near Bulahdelah, the Watagan Mountains, the Blue Mountains, Wiseman’s Ferry area, Ku-Ring-Gai and near Nowra.

Habitat and ecology: The orchid’s habitat requirements are poorly understood and no particular vegetation type has been associated with the species, although it is known to occur in sclerophyll forest. This highly-cryptic orchid grows almost completely below the soil surface. The orchid gets all its energy by attaching itself to a special type of fungus, which in turn gets all of its energy by attaching itself to the roots of a ‘host tree’. An orchid colony may be dependent on a single tree for its survival. The flowers are the only part of the plant that can occur above ground. The orchid flowers from September to November.

Threats: Include habitat loss due to clearing, illegal orchid collectors, trampling of habitat from visitors, unplanned fires which can reduce reproductive potential and lack of distributional information.

What is SoS doing? This species is notoriously difficult to track down, with most of the plant growing underground, and only the flower visible above ground – but even this is nearly always covered by leaf litter. To help locate new populations of this species and other rare orchids, SoS and NPWS are using trained detection dogs to search for new populations amongst the leaf litter. Sometimes detection dogs alert to smells, but no plants can be found. This is possibly because plants are dormant underground at the time of the survey. Therefore, to complement the detection dog work, SoS, in partnership with the CSIRO, is attempting to detect the orchid DNA within the soil samples of these potential sites. The exercise is laying groundwork for finding other elusive species that are also proving a challenge to work with and conserve.

In partnership with the Australian PlantBank, SoS is collecting seeds and fungi of the orchids for insurance against potential population losses in the wild. Propagation trials will also be investigated in an effort to establish permanent insurance populations and use living plants to train more detection dogs to search for this species. It is also hoped that propagated plants will provide an opportunity for the general public to safely view this remarkable species.

Gang-gang cockatoo

Gang-gang cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum)Scientific name: Callocephalon fimbriatum

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: Gang-gang cockatoos are one of Australia's more distinctive and charismatic birds. These birds are primarily slate-grey, with the males easily identified by their scarlet head and wispy crest, while females have a grey head and crest and feathers edged with salmon pink on the underbelly. Their call has been likened to a creaking gate or cork being pulled from a bottle.

Distribution: The gang-gang cockatoo is distributed from southern Victoria through south and central eastern New South Wales.

Habitat and ecology: In spring and summer, they are generally found in tall mountain forests and woodlands, particularly in heavily timbered and mature wet sclerophyll forests. In autumn and winter, the species often moves to lower altitudes in drier more open eucalypt forests and woodlands, particularly box-gum and box-ironbark assemblages, or in dry forest in coastal areas and often found in urban areas.

Threats: Loss of key breeding and foraging habitat from intensive wildfire events and inappropriate hazard reduction burns, rural and urban development; climate change impacts to habitat suitability and distribution; Psittacine cirovirus disease (PCD); lack of knowledge of locations of key breeding habitat and breeding ecology and success; infestation of habitat by invasive weeds; and aggressive exclusion from forest and woodland habitat by over abundant noisy miners.

What is SoS doing? Key management sites for this threatened species are being identified by SoS and other program partners, where feasible, cost-effective and beneficial management actions can be undertaken. Currently, two management sites have been identified for this threatened species. SoS has also asked the public to help spot this wonderful bird.

Giant dragonfly

Female giant dragonfly (Petalura gigantea)Scientific name: Petalura gigantea

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The giant dragonfly is the third largest dragonfly in Australia and one of the largest dragonflies in the world.

Distribution: The giant dragonfly is found along the east coast of NSW from the Victorian border to northern NSW – there are also some known occurrences from the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands.

Habitat and ecology: The giant dragonfly lives in permanent swamps and bogs with some free water and open vegetation. Adults emerge from late October and are short-lived, surviving for one summer after emergence.

Threats:  Climate change impacts such as reduced groundwater, higher temperatures, and more extreme weather events leading to erosion and degradation of habitat, are threatening the giant dragonfly.

What is SoS doing? SoS is undertaking best practice stormwater and soil conservation principles and practices (e.g. identifying problem stormwater input locations, installing stormwater basins and maintaining sediment traps, etc.) are important to keeping swamps clean for the giant dragonfly.

Glossy black-cockatoo

Glossy black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) male wing spreadScientific name: Calyptorhynchus lathami

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The glossy black-cockatoo is a small brown-black cockatoo with a massive, bulbous bill and a short crest. Males have a prominent red tail panel, while that of females is yellow to orange-red. Yellow markings on females’ faces are unique, making it possible to identify and record the history of individuals.

Distribution: The species is uncommon although widespread throughout suitable forest and woodland habitats, from the central Queensland coast to East Gippsland in Victoria, and inland to the southern tablelands and central western plains of NSW, with a small population in the Riverina.

Habitat and ecology: Inhabits open forest and woodlands of the coast and the Great Dividing Range where stands of sheoak occur, which they feed almost exclusively on. Dependent on large hollow-bearing eucalypts for nest sites. A single egg is laid between March and May.

Threats: Reduction of suitable habitats; excessively frequent fire which eliminates she-oaks from areas, and destroys nest trees; firewood collection resulting in loss of hollow-bearing trees, reduced recruitment of hollow-bearing trees, and disturbance of breeding attempts; illegal bird smuggling and egg-collecting; and habitat infestation by weeds such as African boxthorn, Gazania, buffel grass and other invasive grasses.

What is SoS doing? SoS and NPWS hold regular counts of this vulnerable and spectacular species, calling on volunteers to lend a helping hand. Recording sightings of the species helps our scientists understand more about this threatened bird. SoS, with the aid of volunteers and landholders, is also planting and protecting the birds’ foraging and nesting habitat. This work aims to preserve and enhance remaining habitat and connect significant areas with plantings on private and public land.

Gordon's wattle

Gordon's wattle (Acacia gordonii) endangered speciesScientific name: Acacia gordonii

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: Gordon’s wattle is an erect or spreading shrub, growing 0.5–1.5 m high, with smooth grey bark. Its branchlets and leaves (phyllodes) are usually hairy, while flower heads are golden yellow.

Distribution: Restricted to the north-west of Sydney, the wattle occurs in the lower Blue Mountains in the west, and in the Maroota/Glenorie area in the east. The species is known from only a few locations and current information suggests the total number of individuals may be less than 2000.

Habitat and ecology: Gordon’s wattle grows in dry sclerophyll forest and heathlands amongst rock platforms on sandstone outcrops. It flowers from August to September and produces fruit between October and February. Seed germination depends upon fire as the hard-coated seed requires heat to break dormancy.

Threats: Habitat loss and degradation and inappropriate fire regimes, both too frequent (less than every 7 years), and too infrequent fire (unburnt for more than 20 years).

What is SoS doing? Post-fire monitoring of Gordon's wattle found that half the population had been lost at our main conservation site near Bilpin but – with this native shrub needing intense heat and fire to crack open its very hard seed pods – our experts remained cautiously hopeful. The team returned to Bilpin 6 months later to find a 400% increase in the number of Gordon’s wattle plants at this site, with the intense fires and subsequent rains creating the perfect conditions for this wattle to bounce back.

Green and golden bell frog

Green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea)Scientific name: Litoria aurea

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The green and golden bell frog is a relatively large, stout frog, with a gold or cream white stripe running along the sides of its body, and blueish-green inner thighs. The colour of the body varies. It is usually vivid pea-green in colour with spotching that is metallic brassy brown or gold.

Distribution: Large populations in NSW are located around the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Newcastle, Shoalhaven and mid north coast. There is one population inland in the NSW Southern Tablelands.

Habitat and ecology: This frog usually inhabits marshes, dams and stream-sides – water bodies that are unshaded, free of predatory fish and have grassy areas nearby. Terrestrial habitat is known to be important to the species, both for shelter and connectivity between wetlands.

Threats: Key threats to the green and golden bell frog include frog chytrid fungus, habitat loss and fragmentation, predation by exotic fish such as Plague Minnow, alteration to drainage patterns, herbicides and other chemical weed-control measures.

What is SoS doing? SoS is restoring degraded terrestrial and wetland habitat through bush regeneration activities, creating new habitat through the installation of artificial wetlands, and undertaking education actions to highlight the species’ habitat requirements and the importance of protecting existing habitat. It is also undertaking research into the key factors driving the species’ presence to inform future management of the species.

Large bent-winged bat

Large bent-winged bat (Miniopterus orianae oceanensis)Scientific name: Miniopterus orianae oceanensis

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The eastern, or large, bent-winged bat has chocolate to reddish-brown fur on its back and slightly lighter coloured fur on its belly. It has a short snout and a high 'domed' head with short round ears. The last bone of the third finger is much longer than the other finger-bones giving the 'bent-winged' appearance.

Distribution: Large bent-winged bats occur along the east and north-west coasts of Australia.

Habitat and ecology: Caves are the primary roosting habitat for these bats, but they also use derelict mines, stormwater tunnels, buildings and other man-made structures. The bats hunt in forested areas, catching moths and other flying insects.

Threats: Include disturbance by people accessing caves and adjacent areas particularly during winter or breeding; loss of high productivity foraging habitat; and introduction of exotic pathogens, particularly white-nose fungus. Feral cats may prey on bats as they exit roost sites.

What is SoS doing? SoS officers are using thermal video, combined with software adapted from missile-tracking software, to monitor populations of the vulnerable eastern bent-winged bat. These mammals are one of the only Australian microbats known to migrate. Each spring, females travel up to 300km from winter roosts to just a handful of maternity roosts. Here, they give birth and teach their young how to fly, feed and generally be a bat. At the height of the season, there can be more than 40,000 bats in a colony. Quantifying population trends is critical to understanding what affects these bats from year to year and identifying and assessing various management actions.

Little whip snake

Little whip snake (Suta flagellum), threatened speciesScientific name: Suta flagellum

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The little whip snake is a small, slender snake, reaching 45cm in length. Its most conspicuous feature is the black hour-glass-shaped patch from the back of the nape to between the eyes.

Distribution: The little whip snake is found within an area bounded by Crookwell in the north, Bombala in the south, Tumbarumba to the west and Braidwood to the east.

Habitat and ecology: This little snake is found in Natural Temperate Grasslands and grassy woodlands, including those dominated by snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) or yellow box (E. melliodora). It can also be found on well drained hillsides, mostly associated with scattered loose rocks. They are venomous, but their size and small venom dosage is such that they are virtually harmless, though a bite can be painful.

Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation as land is cleared for residential, agricultural and industrial developments is one of the main threats to the little whip snake. Removal of key habitat elements like rocks and fallen timber is another key threat, as is invasion by weeds.

What is SoS doing? SoS is undertaking targeted surveys in areas identified as suitable habitat to get a better idea of sites and population numbers of the little whip snake. Research into threats and habitat requirements is also being done to better understand this threatened species.

Long-nosed potoroo

Long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus)Scientific name: Potorous tridactylus

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: Adult long-nosed potoroos weigh up to 1.6kg, with greyish-brown fur above and light grey below. Long-nosed potoroos are small kangaroo-like marsupials, sometimes called ‘rat kangaroos’. They are solitary animals whose presence is often best revealed by the presence of their distinctive foraging ‘digs’.

Distribution: In NSW, it is generally restricted to coastal heaths and forests east of the Great Dividing Range, with an annual rainfall exceeding 760mm.

Habitat and ecology: The fruit-bodies of hypogeous (underground-fruiting) fungi are a large component of the diet of the long-nosed potoroo, but they also eat roots, tubers, insects and their larvae and other soft-bodied animals in the soil. Mainly nocturnal, hiding by day in dense vegetation – however, during the winter months, animals may forage during daylight hours.

Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation; predation from foxes, wild dogs and cats; inappropriate fire regimes, logging or other disturbances that reduce the availability and abundance food resources, particularly hypogeous fungi and dense ground and shrub cover.

What is SoS doing? There are active management programs for this species at three SoS sites in NSW. Management includes extensive fox and cat control programs and the maintenance of appropriate fire regimes. There are also extensive potoroo monitoring programs.

Magenta lilly pilly

Magenta lilly pilly (Syzygium paniculatum)Scientific name: Syzygium paniculatum

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The magenta lilly pilly is a small to medium sized rainforest tree that grows over 30m depending on the locality. Previously, this species was thought to only grow to 8m; however, as a direct result of SoS, we discovered several populations with trees growing to over 30m. The bark is flaky, with a slight pink tinge, and the leaves are shiny, dark green above, paler underneath and have small scattered oil glands. Plants produce white flower-clusters at the end of each branch, between November and February. The deep magenta fruits, which may be spherical or egg-shaped, can mature from March to May, and contain a single seed with multiplel embryos.

Distribution: The magenta lilly pilly is found only in NSW, in a narrow, linear coastal strip from Forster to Jervis Bay. The furthest the magenta lilly pilly naturally extends away from the coast is in the Ourimbah Creek valley on the Central Coast.

Habitat and ecology: At all natural populations, the magenta lilly pilly occurs on soils associated with sand, generally restricted to remnant stands of littoral (coastal) rainforest or areas of historical rainforest vegetation. The magenta lilly pilly is also a very popular ornamental species and can be found planted throughout NSW in urban areas, most often as street trees.

Threats: Due to the popularity of this species as an ornamental tree and its seemingly wide distribution, the Endangered status is quite misleading; however, naturally occurring ‘wild’ populations are at severe risk of decline from threats such as habitat fragmentation due to clearing of vegetation; exposure to weeds including lantana and asparagus; myrtle rust; overgrazing and trampling of young plants by stock; and climate change.

What is SoS doing? SoS has a conservation strategy in place for this species, presently focusing on a genomic study of all populations to better understand population health and adaptive capacity for a changing climate. Other conservation actions underway include community consultation, particularly with Indigenous groups, to better understand the role Indigenous people play with this species; and weed control at urban populations.

Mountain pygmy-possum

Mountain pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) after the Kosciuszko firesScientific name: Burramys parvus

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The mountain pygmy-possum is a small nocturnal marsupial, twice the size of a house mouse (weighs 45g). Although the mountain pygmy-possum is a rather small marsupial, it is the largest of the pygmy-possum species.

Distribution: The mountain pygmy-possum lives only in alpine and subalpine areas on the highest mountains of Victoria and NSW. In NSW the entire range is above 1200m elevation in Kosciuszko National Park where it occupies less than 2.5 square kilometres of habitat. The southern population occurs in a 30km by 10km area between Thredbo and Kerries Ridge and the northern population in a 10km by 6km area between Cabramurra and Happy Jacks Valley.

Habitat and ecology: The mountain pygmy-possum is the only Australian marsupial that hibernates throughout winter, usually under a cover of snow. In addition, it is the only terrestrial possum in the world. The mountain pygmy-possum is a nocturnal animal, spending its daytime hours curled in a ball under the boulderfields in snow fields, in order to stay cool in summer, conserve heat in winter and avoid predators such as feral cats and foxes. This marsupial is a rather secretive, but calm and social animal.

Threats: One of the key threats facing this unique and cute Aussie animal is loss of their natural habitat due to global warming, which causes increased temperatures and decreased snow cover. Development of the ski industry within their range is another big threat, being a result of restrictions of their habitat requirements. Mountain pygmy-possums are hunted by local predators such as the red fox and feral cats.

What is SoS doing? SoS has been leading a monitoring and survey program for the mountain pygmy-possum and over the last 12 months, has been delivering supplementary food and water to sustain the pygmy-possum due to a decrease in their natural food source (Bogong moths) and loss of vegetation cover after the 2019–20 bushfires. SoS is also carrying out a large feral cat and fox control program and is working with the ski industry to educate them on how they can help protect this species.

Oaklands diuris

Oaklands diuris orchidScientific name: Diuris sp. (Oaklands)

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: Diuris is a large genus of terrestrial orchids, which are commonly called 'donkey orchids'. Unlike many species in the genus, which are yellow (often in combination with purple) in colour, the flowers of Oaklands diuris are white and purple.

Distribution: Currently known only from the Oaklands-Urana region of southern NSW. In fact, the Country Women’s Association building in Oaklands has a sculpture of the plant!

Habitat and ecology: This orchid grows in White Cypress Pine Woodland, either among dense grasses in flat areas with associated eucalypts, or amongst sparse grasses and forbs on low sandhills. Oaklands diuris is pollinated by cute native blue-banded bees.

Threats: Invasive weeds such as wild oats are outcompeting the species. Grazing by domestic stock may limit reproduction in this species and damage habitat and browsing by rabbits is also thought to be impacting this species.

What is SoS doing? SoS has been working to save and conserve this much-loved orchid for over 20 years. In partnership with the Environmental Trust, 2000 Oaklands diuris plants will be planted later this year in a bid to further grow and increase the wild population of this species.

Pink-tailed legless lizard

Pink-tailed legless lizard (Aprasia parapulchella)Scientific name: Aprasia parapulchella

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The pink-tailed legless lizard (also known as the pink-tailed worm-lizard) is worm-like, with a dark-brown head, gradually merging with the pale grey or grey-brown body.

Distribution: The pink-tailed legless lizard is patchily distributed along the foothills of the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range between Bendigo in Victoria and Gunnedah in NSW

Habitat and ecology: The lizard occurs on rocky slopes and open woodland areas with predominantly native grassy ground layers, particularly those dominated by kangaroo grass (Themeda australis). It is also commonly found beneath small, partially embedded rocks and appear to spend considerable time in burrows below these rocks.

Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation and habitat degradation through the loss of native grass cover and rocks are key threats to this lizard.

What is SoS doing? SoS is working to retain native grassland and grassy woodlands with imbedded and surface rock in suitable habitat throughout the species range, protect rocky habitat through management agreements and incentives and to control invasions of weeds and pasture species where they are impacting on known population.

Powerful owl

Powerful owl (Ninox strenua)Scientific name: Ninox strenua

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The powerful owl is the largest owl in Australasia. It is a typical hawk-owl, with large yellow eyes and no facial-disc. It has a slow, deep and resonant double hoot, with the female's being higher pitched and expressing an upward inflection on the second note.

Distribution: The powerful owl is endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia, mainly on the coastal side of the Great Dividing Range from Mackay to south-western Victoria.

Habitat and ecology: Powerful owls are monogamous and mate for life and nesting occurs from late autumn to mid-winter but is slightly earlier in north-eastern NSW (late summer – mid autumn).

Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation, sensitive to disturbances around the nest site which can affect breeding success and road kills. Very young owls are also vulnerable to predation by foxes, dogs and cats.

What is SoS doing? Nature Conservation Council, in partnership with SoS, is implementing the Large Forest Owls Project, to protect and enhance important nesting habitat and food resources for the barking owl, the powerful owl and masked owl in the Richmond–Clarence Lowlands, which is under increasing threat.

Regent honeyeater

Regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia)Scientific name: Anthochaera phrygia

Conservation status in NSW: Critically endangered

Description: The regent honeyeater is a striking and distinctive, medium-sized, black and yellow honeyeater with a sturdy, curved bill and a characteristic patch of dark pink or cream-coloured facial-skin around the eye. The call is a soft metallic bell-like song; birds are most vocal in non-breeding season.

Distribution: The regent honeyeater mainly inhabits temperate woodlands and open forests of the inland slopes of south-east Australia.

Habitat and ecology: Regent honeyeaters inhabit woodlands that support a high abundance and diversity of bird species. These woodlands have large numbers of mature trees, high canopy cover and an abundance of mistletoes. The regent honeyeater is a generalist forager, although it feeds mainly on the nectar from a relatively small number of eucalypts that produce high volumes of nectar.

Threats: Include loss and fragmentation of habitat; competition from larger aggressive honeyeaters; its small population size and restricted habitat availability; and egg and nest predation by native birds and mammals.

What is SoS doing? In June 2020, the regent honeyeater’s population was bolstered, with 20 conservation-bred regent honeyeaters released into the wild. This project aims to bolster the wild population with conservation-bred birds until it becomes self-sustaining.

Smoky mouse

Smoky Mouse (Pseudomys fumeus), critically endangeredScientific name: Pseudomys fumeus

Conservation status in NSW: Critically endangered

Description: Weighing between 40–60 grams, the smoky mouse is part of a sub-group of native mice known as the 'Velvet Mice' or 'Beautiful Furred mice' group. The smoky mouse is said to be gentle and naïve.

Distribution: There are now only 2 sites in NSW where smoky mice are known to occur – the Nullica area on the Far South Coast where fewer than 200 individuals remain, and Kosciuszko National Park.

Habitat and ecology: You can find the smoky mouse on ridge tops and slopes in shrubby sclerophyll forest, heathland and open forest from the coast to sub-alpine regions. In the wild these native mice breed once or twice a year and have only 4 young at a time – unlike house mice which have very quick and frequent breeding cycles with up to 12 young per litter.

Threats: Population numbers of the smoky mouse have dropped to critically low levels in the state's wild due to their gentle and naïve natures, which make them highly vulnerable to predators, particularly feral cats.

What is SoS doing? SoS is leading a captive breeding program to bolster the population numbers of smoky mice in the wild. Kosciuszko National Park was badly impacted during the summer 2019-20 bushfires. SoS spent time surveying and monitoring and found the presence of smoky mouse alive and well at key sites.

Southern brown bandicoot (eastern)

Southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus)Scientific name: Isoodon obesulus obesulus

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: Adult southern brown bandicoots have a body length of about 300mm, a short, thin tail with a pointed end, and weigh between 400–1600g. The species has a relatively short nose and widely spaced round ears, dark grey or yellowish-brown fur on its upper body, tail and feet and a creamy white belly. It is distinguished from the more common long-nosed bandicoot which has longer pointier and more closely spaced ears.

Distribution: The southern brown bandicoot has a patchy distribution on the east coast of the country from south of the Hawkesbury River. In NSW it is found in northern Sydney and south-eastern corner of NSW.

Habitat and ecology: Southern brown bandicoots are largely crepuscular, which means they’re active mainly after dusk and dawn. They feed on a variety of ground-dwelling invertebrates and the fruit-bodies of underground-fruiting fungi, with their searches for food often creating distinctive conical holes in the soil.

Threats: Loss and fragmentation of habitat; predation by introduced predators such as cats, dogs and foxes; death or injury by fire and motor vehicles.

What is SoS doing? SoS is monitoring the small population of southern brown bandicoots remaining in NSW and managing threats like cats and foxes to ensure there’s a future for these animals for years to come.

Southern corroboree frog

Southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) lives in small pockets of Kosciusko National ParkScientific name: Pseudophryne corroboree

Conservation status in NSW: Critically endangered

Description: The southern corroboree frog has bright yellow longitudinal stripes alternating with black stripes on its back, and has black, yellow and white blotches underneath. Adults are average in size, reaching a length of 2.5–3cm. Their call is a short but sweet 'squelch'.

Distribution: The southern corroboree frog is limited to bogs of the northern Snowy Mountains, in a strip from the Maragle Range in the north-west, through Mt Jagungal to Smiggin Holes in the south. Its range is entirely within Kosciuszko National Park.

Habitat and ecology: This species’ summer breeding habitat is pools and seepages in sphagnum bogs, wet tussock grasslands and wet heath. They feed primarily on small black ants and other invertebrates. Outside the breeding season adults move away from the bogs into the surrounding heath and snowgum woodland to overwinter under litter, logs and dense groundcover.

Threats: Key threats include damage to breeding sites by feral pigs and/or horses; disease; climate change; and their high risk of extinction.

What is SoS doing? SoS has partnered with Taronga Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary to establish captive breeding programs, ensuring there are insurance populations of this precious frog in the case of natural disasters like bushfires.

Spotted-tailed quoll

Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)Scientific name: Dasyurus maculatus

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The spotted-tailed quoll is about the size of a domestic cat, with an adult male weighing about 3.5kg and an adult female about 2kg. It has rich-rust to dark-brown fur above, with irregular white spots on the back and tail, and a pale belly. The spotted tail distinguishes it from all other Australian mammals, including other quoll species.

Distribution: This quoll is found in eastern NSW.

Habitat and ecology: Quolls are mostly nocturnal and spend most of the time on the ground. They are excellent climbers and will hunt possums and gliders in tree hollows and prey on roosting birds. Quolls use communal ‘latrine sites’, which can be recognised by the accumulation of the sometimes characteristic ‘twisty-shaped’ faeces they deposit.

Threats: Include loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat; competition with introduced predators such as cats and foxes; deliberate poisoning, shooting and trapping, primarily in response to chicken predation; and poisoning from eating cane toads in the wild.

What is SoS doing? SoS is leading ground-breaking research and monitoring to give scientists an insight into the mysterious world of spotted-tailed quolls in NSW. There’s lots to learn about these animals and the more we know and understand how they live, the better chance we have of conserving them in the wild.

Squirrel glider

Squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis)Scientific name: Petaurus norfolcensis

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: Adult squirrel gliders have a head and body length of about 20cm, with blue-grey to brown-grey fur above, white on the belly and the end third of the tail is black, soft and bushy. Squirrel gliders are up to twice the size of sugar gliders, their facial markings are more distinct, and they are also less vocal than sugar gliders.

Distribution: The species is widely though sparsely distributed in eastern Australia, from northern Queensland to western Victoria.

Habitat and ecology: Squirrel gliders live in family groups of a single adult male, one or more adult females and offspring, and require abundant tree hollows for refuge and nest sites. Diet varies seasonally and consists of Acacia gum, eucalypt sap, nectar, honeydew and manna, with invertebrates and pollen providing protein.

Threats: Habitat loss and degradation; fragmentation of habitat; loss of hollow-bearing trees and understorey food resources; reduction in food resources due to drought; mortality due to entanglement on barbed wire; vehicle collision; and predation by exotic predators.

What is SoS doing? In partnership with Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, the Petaurus connection project is restoring natural habitat connections across the Abercrombie catchment to help conserve the squirrel glider, spotted-tailed quoll and scarlet robin.

Superb parrot

Superb parrot (Polytelis swainsonii)Scientific name: Polytelis swainsonii

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The superb parrot is a distinctive large, bright grass-green parrot with a long, narrow tail and sharply back-angled wings in flight. Males have yellow foreheads and throats and a red crescent that separates the throat from the green breast and belly. Females are slightly duller green and have a dull, light blue wash in place of the males' red and yellow markings.

Distribution: The superb parrot is found throughout eastern inland NSW.

Habitat and ecology: Inhabit Box-Gum, Box-Cypress-pine and Boree Woodlands and River Red Gum Forest. Feed in trees and understorey shrubs and on the ground and their diet consists mainly of grass seeds and herbaceous plants.

Threats: Loss of hollow-bearing trees and breeding and foraging habitat; poor regeneration of nesting trees and food resources; feeding on grain spills and subsequently being struck by vehicles; illegal trapping; illegal shooting; lack of knowledge of population trends, flight paths and breeding ecology and competition with noisy miners for breeding and foraging habitat and resources.

What is SoS doing? SoS and its partners work with the community to collect population and distribution information that contributes to the understanding of movements, annual numbers and conservation and management of the superb parrot. Many community members are now collecting annual count data on their properties, towns and roadsides using a standard and simple transect walk method.

Swift parrot

Swift parrot (Lathamus discolor)Scientific name: Lathamus discolor

Conservation status in NSW: Endangered

Description: The swift parrot is a small bright green parrot about 25cm long, with red around the bill, throat and forehead. One of most distinctive features from a distance is its long, thin tail, which is dark red and its flute-like chirruping or metallic 'kik-kik-kik' call.

Distribution: Breeds in Tasmania during spring and summer, migrating in the autumn and winter months to south-eastern Australia.

Habitat and ecology: On the mainland they occur in areas where eucalypts are flowering profusely or where there are abundant lerp infestations. Favoured feed trees include winter flowering species such as swamp mahogany, spotted gum, red bloodwood, forest red gum, mugga ironbark and white box.

Threats: Include changes in spatial and temporal distribution of habitat due to climate change; reduced food availability due to drought conditions; competition from introduced bees and large, aggressive honeyeaters for food resources; Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease vulnerability; and illegal capture and trade of wild birds for aviculture.

What is SoS doing? Through our on-ground actions, such as protecting large old trees, increasing the extent and quality of habitat to increase food supply and managing aggressive honeyeater impacts through habitat modification, SoS is working to secure a future for the swift parrot. Community engagement is also crucial to our success and is helping us to investigate knowledge gaps to improve the effectiveness of management actions.

Variable midge orchid

Variable midge orchid (Genoplesium insigne) flowersScientific name: Genoplesium insigne

Conservation status in NSW: Critically endangered

Description: A terrestrial orchid with a solitary cylindrical leaf that encloses the flowering stem. The leaf is 6–15cm long, and dark green with a reddish base. The flowering stem is 9–18cm tall, bearing 5 to 12 flowers in a moderately dense spike. Flowers are dark purple and approximately 5 mm in diameter.

Distribution: Recorded from several populations in the area bound by the localities of Wyong, Chain Valley Bay and Freemans Waterhole. These localities are in the Central Coast Council and Lake Macquarie LGAs.

Habitat and ecology: This orchid typically flowers from September to October but has been recorded flowering in mid to late November to early December. The species is extremely difficult to locate even when in flower and cannot be definitively identified from leaf alone. It grows in patches of kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra), which can be ephemeral.

Threats: Include loss and fragmentation of habitat, road and track maintenance activities, physical damage, erosion and habitat degradation resulting from four-wheel drives and trail bikes and weeds competing for space with the species.

What is SoS doing? A partnership between SoS and research scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria has developed a world-first germination method to secure the future of three critically endangered orchids, including the variable midge orchid. Orchids are notoriously difficult to germinate, with each species of orchid relying on a particular type of fungi in order to germinate. After two years of research, we’ve finally identified the germination techniques and specific mycorrhizal fungi required for propagation of these three critically endangered orchids – the variable midge orchid, Corunastylis sp. Charmhaven and Wyong sun-orchid (Thelymitra adorata).

Yellow-bellied glider

Yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis)Scientific name: Petaurus australis

Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable

Description: The yellow-bellied glider is a large, active, sociable and vocal glider. Adults weigh 450–700g, have a head and body length of about 30cm and a large bushy tail that is about 45cm long. It has grey to brown fur above with a cream to yellow belly, which is paler in young animals. The dark stripe down the back is characteristic of the group. It has a loud, distinctive call, beginning with a high-pitched shriek and subsiding into a throaty rattle.

Distribution: The yellow-bellied glider is found along the eastern coast to the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range, from southern Queensland to Victoria.

Habitat and ecology: Occur in tall mature eucalypt forest generally in areas with high rainfall and nutrient rich soils. Feed primarily on plant and insect exudates, including nectar, sap, honeydew and manna with pollen and insects providing protein. Extract sap by incising (or biting into) the trunks and branches of favoured food trees, often leaving a distinctive ‘V’-shaped scar.

Threats: Loss and fragmentation of habitat; loss of hollow-bearing trees; and loss of feed trees.

What is SoS doing? SoS is undertaking revegetation, using a mix of locally appropriate native species that will develop into high quality habitat.

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