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Tags Current Affairs

Iconic platypus under threat

Date: 21 January 2020 Tags: Biodiversity


Australia’s devastating drought and other effects of climate change are pushing the iconic duck-billed platypus, a globally unique mammal, towards extinction.



Platypuses were once considered widespread across the eastern Australian mainland and Tasmania, although not a lot is known about their distribution or abundance.



  • Researchers examined the risks of extinction for this intriguing animal and have called for action to minimise the risk of the platypus vanishing due to habitat destruction, dams and weirs.

  • The study examined the potentially devastating combination of threats to platypus populations, including water resource development, land clearing, climate change and increasingly severe periods of drought.

  • 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 threats include include dams that stop their movements, agriculture which can destroy their burrows, fishing gear and yabby traps which can drown them and invasive foxes which can kill them.

The Platypus

  • The platypus is the sole living representative of its family, and genus, though a number of related species appear in the fossil record.

  • Like other monotremes it senses prey through electrolocation. It is one of the few species of venomous mammals, as the male platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans.

  • It is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.

Platypus sanctuaries

  • David Fleay Wildlife Park, Gold Coast, Queensland.

  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane, Queensland.

  • Walkabout Creek Wildlife Centre, The Gap, Brisbane, Queensland.

  • The Australian Platypus Park at Tarzali Lakes, Millaa Millaa, Queensland.

  • Taronga Zoo, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Sydney Wild Life, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Australian Reptile Park, Somersby, New South Wales

  • Healesville Sanctuary, near Melbourne, Victoria

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