Science

Platypus Is Inching Towards Extinction Due To Climate Change, Claim Researchers

Platypus Is Inching Towards Extinction Due To Climate Change, Claim Researchers”

The researchers said the platypus' habitat would need to be managed to save from global extinction.

The platypus was once considered widespread across eastern Australia and Tasmania but its "cryptic" nocturnal nature means knowledge of its population and spread has been limited until now.

The study predicted a drop in "expected minimum population" size of 52 per cent to 72 per cent depending on the severity of drought over a period of about 100 years.

Alarmingly, the study estimates that platypus populations have been wiped out entirely in 40 per cent of their previous habitat.

"Australia has the worst land clearing rate in a developed country as well as the worst mammal extinction rate in the world".

"Particularly in South Australia, we know the platypus used to extend along the Murray River but are now in some areas practically extinct", Dr Bino said.

Documented declines and local extinctions of the platypus show a species facing considerable risks, while the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently downgraded the platypus" conservation status to "Near Threatened, ' the researchers said.

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"These dangers further expose the platypus to even worse local extinctions with no capacity to repopulate areas", Dr Bino said.

"To have held an animal or plant that has long gone extinct for your lifetime, it impacts your soul", he advised Al Jazeera. "Extinctions are a part of us".

"Platypus are a Gondwanan dinosaur species-they are monotremes, egg-laying mammals, some of the oldest lineages of mammals on earth".

'There is an urgent need for a national risk assessment for the platypus to assess its conservation status, evaluate risks and impacts, and prioritise management in order to minimise any risk of extinction, ' Bino said.

The seven platypuses will be returned home when conditions improve - but May said that "given how extreme conditions are now, I fully expect that it will be many months before we see enough rain to replenish this wetland and warrant their return". By 2070, platypus abundance could decline by up to 73 percent under climate projections, which predict increased extreme drought frequencies and duration, according to the study.

Just after Christmas, a team of experts from ACT Parks and Conservation, the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the UNSW Sydney's Centre for Ecosystem Science sprung into action, aiming to relocate the Tidbinbilla platypuses before the water totally dried up. The primary threats to platypuses come from human interaction with their habitats, as dams can stop them from moving, fishing nets can trap them and agricultural activity can destroy their burrows.

Seven platypus have been saved from certain death after they were rescued from dwindling waterways that were weeks away from completely drying up.



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