For the first time in over half a century, our favourite water-dwelling monotreme will be reintroduced to Sydney’s Royal National Park!
The project will initially see 10 platypus, a mix of males and females, relocated into the park in the first half of 2022. The animals will be tagged and their progress and breeding activity monitored for two years. There are also plans to build special boardwalks and viewing platforms for visitors to check out the platypus in a non-invasive way.
The project is a collaboration between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), UNSW, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF).
There have been no recorded sightings of a platypus in the Royal National Park since the 1970s, and Environment Minister Matt Kean, who announced the project yesterday, is determined to prevent the platypus from dwindling in numbers.
‘Unfortunately, we have some of the worst extinction rates anywhere in the world and we have to make sure the platypus never makes that list,’ Mr Kean said.
Across their traditional habitats, platypus have been declining in numbers due to a combo of the mismanagement of rivers, increase in climate change-induced droughts and fires, habitat destruction, and invasive species.
‘Platypus are to our rivers what koalas are to our forests, but there’s a risk they will disappear if we don’t talk bold steps to reverse their decline, said Rob Brewster, WWF-Australia’s Rewilding Program Manager.
‘This project will combine rigorous scientific monitoring with on-ground action to return platypus to rivers they once called home.’
As part of the project, the NSW NPWS team will survey other areas around NSW to figure out where the platypus is thriving and could be sourced from for relocation to the Royal National Park.
Photo thanks to UNSW