Canberra (dpa) – More frequent and prolonged periods of drought in the wake of climate change also threaten one of Australia’s most impressive creatures: the platypus.
The number of egg-laying mammals is threatened to dwindle by half to a good two thirds in the next 50 years, and their range by a third to a good half, report Australian researchers in the specialist journal “Biological Conservation”. The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) occurs in waters in eastern Australia and on the island of Tasmania. According to data from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) there are currently around 50,000 of the animals .
What impact the fires of the last few weeks have on the Ar had is still largely unclear and was not recorded by the researchers. For the entire habitat, they made projections for the populations that were currently present – before the fires – and used them in model calculations that took into account factors such as water shortage, loss of habitat due to human influence and the threat from introduced predators.
Because some of its populations are dwindling or already extinct, the platypus is currently classified by the IUCN as “potentially endangered”. The researchers led by Gilad Bino from the University of New South Wales in Sydney are convinced that a higher classification on the Red List as “endangered” is now necessary, especially with a view to climate change.
In the state of South Australia, the species is therefore already practically extinct. “At the local level, we have already made platypus extinct and in many places completely destroyed its habitat,” said Bino. “For Australia, the environment is not a priority.” For a developed country, the clearing rates are particularly high there, and many mammal species are endangered.
Scientists recently reported in the journal “Science of the Total Environment” that the sword sturgeon from the Chinese Yangtze is very likely to be extinct. A living specimen was last seen in 2003.