Keep an eye out for the Platypus
14 Oct 2021
Andy Taylor, Senior Natural Resource Management Advisor.
Australian wildlife is truly unique and extremely captivating. One species always seems to grab our attention, if you ever get the chance to see it!
Key points about platypus:
- platypus have already disappeared from a third of their habitat in NSW
- they are an elusive, mostly nocturnal, creature, making them hard to detect
- they need well-vegetated creek and riverbanks to construct their burrows.
The platypus is an elusive, mostly nocturnal, creature spending much of its time in shady pools searching for its food. Only the very patient, or very lucky, get to witness their natural behaviours in the wild. This, in part, makes it difficult to know how many are out there and the risk is they could be declining in number right under our noses.
There are many threats to their survival. Platypus need well-vegetated creek and riverbanks to construct their burrows. They also need dense streambank vegetation and reliable flows to prevent them from becoming too exposed to predators. The Australian Government’s threatened species team is particularly concerned about their numbers following intense drought, fires and floods in recent times.
Thankfully, we can have a positive impact against these threats in our rural and farm environments. What we can do to help protect platypus:
- we can exclude livestock that can cause streambank (and platypus burrow) collapse
- we can revegetate creek and riverbanks to stabilise soils and provide protective cover
- we can monitor and control foxes, cats and domestic dogs to improve survival rates from predation
- we can also consider our recreational activities like yabbying and fishing as these have been closely tied to platypus deaths when hooks and lines are left in the water and illegal opera house traps are used, which will drown aquatic mammals if they enter them.
It’s an unfortunate scenario that local extinctions are a real likelihood for the platypus if we don’t act. Platypus have already disappeared from a third of their range in NSW and unless their habitat is protected or restored, they will never return. However, if we are proactive and take collective action on these threats, then together we will successfully raise the hopes for the platypus and many other threatened species that exist in our local areas.
Local Land Services can assist landholders with pest monitoring and control advice, farm planning workshops, designs and activities that incorporate production and conservation values to build a better balance in our environment.
Call your nearest Local Land Services office on 1300 799 295 to speak to one of our team members on the first steps.
If you have recently seen a platypus in your local waterway then please get in touch with Local Land Services or your local environmental group to record a sighting. This information is so important right now. If you want to go looking for one the best times are early mornings or late evenings.
Keep your eyes peeled!
Platypus in Gillamatong creek, Braidwood. Photos by Judy Knowles
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