Aussie Ark finds dead platypuses in dried up rivers

Dead platypus and Hunter River turtles were found on the dried up upper reaches of the Hunter River. Photo courtesy Aussie Ark
Dead platypus and Hunter River turtles were found on the dried up upper reaches of the Hunter River. Photo courtesy Aussie Ark

The iconic platypus is emerging as a silent victim during the wildlife crisis Australia is currently experiencing due to drought and bushfires, with the species' dire situation becoming apparent after Aussie Ark staff visited known platypus hot spots and making horrible discoveries.

During the last few weeks, Aussie Ark has relocated nine platypus in total.

Staff discovered two deceased specimens and have taken five into care. The platypus in care are now recovering, gaining weight and being assessed for re-release. However, their future in the wild remains uncertain.

Platypus recovery mission. Video by Aussie Ark

The platypus' distribution range is throughout the entire fire ground on the east coast of Australia, including the Manning catchment, and the species is suffering from the effects of fire, and catastrophic effects of drought, climate change as well as the unregulated pumping of water from rivers.

The shattering loss to platypus will be unfathomable with deceased animals estimated to be numbering thousands if not tens of thousands.

Platypus to this point have been unsung heroes, as one of only three species of monotreme found in the world including the platypus, the short-beaked echidna and the New Guinea long-beaked echidna. All three of these species have survived in the wild in the face of adversity, where other mammals have been lost. Unfortunately, this has all changed due to recent catastrophic conditions.

Platypus numbers in the wild were already in decline, and current populations will have been catastrophically and perhaps irreversibly affected by fire and drought.

Tim Faulkner, president Aussie Ark

"The loss to platypus life is devastating. They are truly a unique and wondrous animal, quite literally found nowhere else on the planet. An Aussie icon!" Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner said.

"Platypus numbers in the wild were already in decline, and current populations will have been catastrophically and perhaps irreversibly affected by fire and drought.

"Currently, several organisations including Aussie Ark and the Australian Reptile Park have rescued and released a number of platypus to deeper water, while other individuals too weak for release have been bought into care, where they are continuing to recover well.

Vets examining a platypus taken into care by Aussie Ark. Photo courtesy Aussie Ark

Vets examining a platypus taken into care by Aussie Ark. Photo courtesy Aussie Ark

"Aussie Ark is calling for a regional, collective approach to help save the iconic species!" Tim Faulkner said.

Aussie Ark, a not-for-profit organisation, will continue to monitor, rescue and intervene where necessary to ensure a future for the platypus.

"Caring for the animals is critical but expensive. We need all the help we can get and are calling on the community for their help," Tim Faulkner said.

The public can help support Aussie Ark in their crusade by donating today through their website www.aussieark.org.au.