In a study published on January 20, scientists at the Center for Ecological Sciences at the University of New South Wales (NSW – Australia) reported that the number of platypus species had decreased by 40% on the coast. Eastern Australia due to drought, land clearance, pollution and dam construction, seriously damaged their habitat.
If these threats are not addressed, the number of platypuses could be reduced to 47 – 66% in the next 50 years. In addition, taking into account the current predictions of a worsening climate change situation, this figure could reach 73%.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, platypus is in a state “in danger of extinction”. However, scientists from the University of NSW warn that damage to river systems due to low rainfall and high temperatures over the years has made the animal’s future even more gloomy.
Experts also emphasized the “urgent need” to conduct national risk assessments and take conservation measures to minimize any species’ extinction.
It is estimated that the number of platypuses in Australia has decreased by 50% since the arrival of Europeans on the continent of Oceania two centuries ago. Meanwhile, research results published in November 2018 showed that the number of platypuses had decreased by 30% during this time, to about 200,000.
The platypus is an endemic semi-aquatic mammal of Eastern Australia. Along with four species of echidna, platypus is one of the five extant monocytes, the only mammals to lay eggs, rather than give birth. The platypus has a quite special shape, with a duck-like beak, a beaver-like tail and webbed feet of an otter.
The University of NSW study comes as wildfires are devastating large areas of eastern Australia due to drought and record high temperatures.