Platypuses have lost one-fourth of their homes since 19903 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
A recent survey by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has reported the loss of 22% (or 200,000 square kilometers) of platypuses’ habitat since 1990.
In other words, in three decades, we have lost close to one-fourth of the home that belongs to platypuses.
Platypus is an incredible mammal that lays eggs, stays up all night and has a duck like beak. It is unique as it has no stomach, no teeth and a tail whose primary function is to store fat. An evolutionary marvel, a platypus has features of reptiles, mammals, and birds. Scientists had a hard time accepting that this animal was not created in a lab but in the hands of nature!
“He is Perry. Perry, the platypus.”
Do you remember Platypus Perry from the cartoon, Phineas and Ferb? He was a house pet who had a dual life as a secret agent!
You might want to think about what your pet does when you are away…
Beyond Disney Channel, platypuses are found in river systems in eastern Australia. But over the last three decades, a fourth of their habitat has been lost to droughts, dams and more.
Scientists have reported a 32% decline in platypus observations in New South Wales, a 27% decline in Queensland, and a whooping 65% in areas near Melbourne.
What are the reasons for their dwindling numbers?
Before hunting was made illegal in the 20th century, platypuses were hunted by fur traders for their soft waterproof skin.
This widespread hunting has left a lasting impact that is manifesting in their dwindling numbers even today.
- Poorly managed dams:
According to the data collected by certain scientists, if a dam is managed poorly it can eradicate the entire population of platypuses living beneath its surface.
- Environmental stress:
The most recent bushfires in Australia, that resulted in the loss of more than one billion animals, also hit the platypus population hard. The bushfires destroyed the vegetation around the banks that platypuses rely on for food and nesting. The resultant drought from the bushfires is also contributing to their decline.
For now, the animal has the status of ‘near threatened’ on the Red List. The declining population of Platypuses has made researchers call for Australia to designate platypuses as nationally threatened to propel prioritised remedial action.
Think with Owliver:
When is an animal designated as endangered, threatened or vulnerable?
Find out and let Owliver know in the comments, below.