Help monitor platypus numbers

Thursday 29 August, 2019
A call is going out for people to get involved in a citizen science project to keep track of platypus numbers in rivers across the Goulburn Broken Catchment.
Goulburn Broken CMA is working on the project with the Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC).
Goulburn Broken CMA Project Officer Jo Deretic said the conservation status of the platypus had now been recognised as ‘Near Threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
“Despite being a much-loved Australian animal, surprisingly little is known about how platypus populations are currently faring,” she said. “It is vital that we get a good idea of how this special species is faring in our region so
that we can plan appropriate conservation action. The platypus is also an excellent indicator of the environmental qualities of our waterways, so monitoring its numbers also helps with assessing changes in the
health of our rivers and creeks.”
APC Biologist Geoff Williams said platypus numbers had declined over many decades as a result of
environmental degradation and altered flows.
“Human activities also had an impact, especially through the use of opera house yabby traps and other fishing
nets that kill platypus,” he said. “Fortunately, there is now a huge opportunity to bring the platypus back.
Considerable work is being done by CMAs and other agencies to rehabilitate river habitats and improve
environmental flows. There is a growing public awareness of the risks to platypus posed by litter and illegal
fishing activities. The Victorian Government’s ban on enclosed yabby traps from mid-2019 will also save the
lives of many platypus.”
The APC has launched the Australian Platypus Monitoring Network (APMN), a dedicated website and app that
allows for sightings of platypus to be uploaded immediately.
Mr Williams said monitoring platypus numbers was a key part of future planning.
“Getting the local community involved in recording sightings with the APMN will be a great way of helping the
species. By tracking population trends, conservation action can be taken sooner rather than later to help ensure
this remarkable animal’s survival. Monitoring doesn’t take a huge time commitment - once or twice a week is
fine on average, though you can also certainly look more often if you want. Similarly, a standard monitoring
session requires just 5-10 minutes of observation time at each site. Many APMN participants fit their platypus
scanning sessions into other day-to-day activities, such as taking a walk or checking a stock pump. Volunteers
who are able to monitor on their private land are particularly welcome and they are able specify that their site is
restricted and not open to use by other observers.”
APC platypus experts will be presenting free information and training sessions on the following days:
  • Nagambie: CFA Station, 2 Vine Street, Nagambie - 6pm Wednesday September 4 (talk); monitoring training 7am Thursday September 5.
  • Murchison: CFA Station, Robinson Street Murchison - 6pm Thursday September 5 (talk); monitoring training 7am Friday September 6.
  • Shepparton: GB CMA office, 168 Welsford St - 6pm Friday September 6 (talk); monitoring training 7am Saturday September 7.
  • Nathalia: Barmah Heritage Centre, 73 Blake St - 3pm Saturday September 7 (talk); followed by monitoring training.
The sessions are free but registration is essential. Please RSVP to Andrea Muskee on 5822 7707 or by noon Wednesday September 4.
This project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Environmental Water Program.