Saturday, July 13, 2024

Platypus return to Royal National Park


Platypus have returned to Royal National Park in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, after being locally extinct for 50 years, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has announced.

The project is a collaboration between the NPWS, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, UNSW Sydney and WWF-Australia.

It is the first ever translocation program for platypus in NSW and will re-establish a self-sustaining and genetically diverse platypus population, said NSW Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe.

“The iconic platypus is under immense pressure. The work that has gone into this project to get to the point of releasing these platypus is essential to assure the security of these species into the future,” the Minister said.

“Royal National Park is Australia’s oldest national park and I am pleased this historic reintroduction will help re-establish a sanctuary for this iconic species.

“Translocation is just one conservation measure that can help ensure the survival of NSW species such as platypus against climate change.”

Five female platypus were released into the park this week and will be followed by four males in the coming week once the females have successfully established their territory.

The platypus were collected from southern NSW to ensure genetic diversity and brought to Taronga Zoo’s purpose-built platypus refuge.

They received veterinary health checks, were assessed for release, and fitted with transmitters. 

Ongoing monitoring and tracking by UNSW and WWF-Australia will determine the success of the re-introduction to the park.

“The reintroduction of platypus to the Royal National Park is more than just about returning an iconic species to its home; it’s about restoring balance to the ecosystem and reinforcing our commitment to conservation,” said Dr Gilad Bino, of UNSW’s Centre for Ecosytem Science.

“We hope that people will be inspired by the incredible platypus and its successful reintroduction, as it serves as a testament to what can be achieved through conservation and dedicated efforts.”

Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Cameron Kerr said while their elusive behaviour keeps them from view, under the surface they are particularly susceptible to drought and environmental change.

“This translocation not only re-establishes a population in part of their former range but allows us to refine the skills and expertise that will inevitably be required to counter the impacts of increasingly frequent and more severe climate events,” he said.              

“The platypus is Taronga’s emblem, and we are committed to ensuring it not only survives but thrives for years to come.”

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