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Scientists are calling for immediate national action to save Australia’s beloved platypus from the risk of extinction.
New research has discovered the iconic and elusive mammal is under threat, due to drought conditions drying up rivers, and man-made threats such as land-clearing, dams and weirs, fishing gear and yabby traps, and foxes.
A new study led by the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales Sydney has found platypus numbers have dropped by up to 50 percent, while some local populations have completely disappeared.
Lead author Dr Gilad Bino wants to see a national research and action plan put in place.
“There is an urgent need to implement national conservation efforts for this unique mammal…by increasing monitoring, tracking trends, mitigating threats, and protecting and improving management of freshwater habitats,” he said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently labelled the platypus as “near threatened”, but in Australia it’s only listed in one state: South Australia, where it is labelled “endangered”.
Study co-author Professor Brendan Wintle at The University of Melbourne said there is no time to wait, and that preventative measures should be taken now.
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“We should learn from the peril facing the koala to understand what happens when we ignore the warning signs,” he said.
The UNSW research was supported by the Taronga Conservation Society.