The Sydney Hawk dragonfly Austrocordulia leonardi is a very distinctive dragonfly. It has an attractive black and yellow abdomen with transparent wings studded with black tips. The wing span can be up to 70mm with an abdomen length of up to 40mm. The aquatic larvae can measure up to 24mm and they move through the water using jet propulsion by expelling water through their anus. Dragonfly larvae and adults are predatory. The larvae extend their toothed jaw to attack prey in a grabbing motion like a modified harpoon. Adult dragonflies are masters at aerial acrobatics; they can fly upwards, downwards, backwards, forwards, side to side, and even hover in mid-air. Their large eyes can hone in on flying prey, like a stealth jet fighter.

Sydney Hawk dragonflies are a namesake of Sydney. Still, unfortunately, it is a species endangered in New South Wales and listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Sydney Hawk dragonflies love deep shady pools of water and prefer to emerge into adults on sheer sandstone rock faces or overhangs (Grieve & Broom 2022). Their demise is due to habitat degradation caused by river regulation, riparian sedimentation, water pollution and climate change which have all contributed to the decline in its population.

To save this charismatic species we need to manage environmental water, reduce sediment loads, rehabilitate riparian and aquatic vegetation and protect their remaining habitat sites. Georges Riverkeeper is working with experts and Councils to track the habitats of the Sydney Hawk Dragonfly.