Six months after the historic reintroduction of platypuses to Royal National Park south of Sydney, the iconic Australian animals are reportedly thriving in their new habitat.
Ten platypuses were released in May, after being locally extinct for 50 years. Each of them carries an acoustic tag which pings listening receivers up and down the rivers of the Royal.
The latest data show nine of the 10 animals are adapting well to their environment. The tenth platypus has ventured beyond the team’s tracking capabilities, which she has done before, and the team is confident she is exploring creeks she has previously visited.
“These wonderful native animals are facing multiple threats in the wild, and there is an increasing need to actively manage their conservation for the ongoing survival of their populations,” said NSW Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Penny Sharpe.
“After taking part in the reintroduction program in the Royal National Park six months ago, I am thrilled to hear they are thriving in their new habitat and venturing deep into the park.”
Visitors to the Royal National Park are now regularly reporting platypus sightings.
“The reintroduction has exceeded our expectations. The platypuses have adapted exceptionally well to the Royal National Park, a testament to the robustness of both the species and the habitat,” said Lead Researcher Dr Gilad Bino, UNSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science.
“We are closely monitoring the one platypus which has ventured beyond our monitoring capacity, but she will no doubt reconnect soon.”
The project is a collaboration between the Platypus Conservation Initiative (UNSW Sydney), WWF-Australia, NSW National Parks Wildlife Service and Taronga Conservation Society. The project is guided by a commitment to preserving the Royal National Park’s unique biodiversity and supporting the long-term success of the platypus population.
“Our tracking data is providing fascinating insights into how the platypuses are interacting with their new habitat. We’re learning so much from these ten animals that will help inform future reintroductions of the species,” said WWF-Australia conservation ecologist, Patrick Giumelli.
“We need to take these bold actions to reverse the decline of this Australian icon and secure its future.”
Plans are underway to conduct comprehensive surveys in the park next year to assess the breeding success and overall health of the platypus population. The goal is to confirm whether the reintroduced platypuses have successfully reared young, which would mark another milestone in this ambitious conservation project.