Dear Friend of Wildlife,
Should out of sight mean out of mind for our iconic native platypus?
We say NOT ANYMORE!
As one of our most unique native animals, the platypus is an Australian icon. Its distinctive duck-bill and beaver-tail are so very familiar. Despite its secrecy, we know the species lives in burrows in our creeks and streams. And some of us are even aware that, as a monotreme, the platypus is a mammal that lays eggs.
BUT, astonishingly, what we do not know about the platypus in Queensland is its distribution. And we haven’t for 15 years.
Data from the most up-to-date comprehensive distribution survey of platypus in Queensland were collected back in 2001 by NatureSearch’s Platysearch. Over 600 volunteers surveyed 102 waterways across the state, recording 406 platypus observations and raising the profile of this iconic species and the impacts of waterway health on platypus populations. But unfortunately, this was a one-off snapshot:
any contraction or expansion in platypus range over the past 15 years is unknown.
Publicly available State Government data show a 59% decrease in platypus sightings in the last 10 years in comparison with the 10 years prior.
Queensland, we’re either losing our platypus or losing interest.
We can do a lot better than this for a native icon. And we must.
In 2016, WPSQ’s PlatypusWatch is committed to updating and continuing to update Queensland’s platypus distribution data by launching the first state-wide platypus distribution census since 2001:
With over 12 years’ experience looking out for platypus in Queensland, WPSQ’s PlatypusWatch is set to co-ordinate Branches and community members across the state this winter in collecting comprehensive platypus population distribution information which will go on to be GIS mapped, analysed, compared with data from 2001 and shared with relevant government agencies.
And the timing couldn’t be better – the technology is here.
An exciting key element of Platycount 2016 will see WPSQ’s PlatypusWatch trial the use of new environmental DNA (eDNA) technology in its search. Described in leading journal Biological Conservation as a powerful new tool for ecological conservation, eDNA tests for species-specific DNA shed by animals into their environment. A sample of water from the stream is all that’s required for analysis.
In collaboration with Melbourne-based environmental research company cesar, which developed and verified eDNA genetic markers for the platypus, PlatyCount 2016 will trial this innovative approach in its south-east Queensland locations and expand the technology to PlatypusWatch surveys state-wide if successful.
Data collected by PlatyCount 2016 will enable Wildlife Queensland to target conservation actions and draw attention to waterway health issues that impact our platypus including bank erosion, sedimentation, altered flow regimes, exotic weeds and household rubbish, seeking commitments from regional bodies to address waterway health for the benefit of the platypus - and therefore many other species.
With Branches across the state, Wildlife Queensland has the reach. With
the help of local communities, we will have the numbers. With the
latest technology, we have a better chance than ever of success. But to
make PlatyCount 2016 really count, we need your help!
I am reaching out today for your support in raising $25,000 by 30 April to put the platypus firmly back in our sights and our minds in Queensland in 2016.
Please, will you make a tax-deductible donation today to help make PlatyCount really count for our platypus in 2016?
Platypus distribution in Queensland could be constricting and its population declining – and we wouldn’t even know. Should out of sight really mean out of mind for one of Australia’s most unique and treasured native animals? Together, we have the power to say not anymore – not on our watch!
President Wildlife Queensland.