Australia leading biodiversity loss and extinctions: platypus population could be affected

Amid a new call for an inquiry into Australia’s animal extinction crisis, experts worry that the platypus, one of our most iconic animals, isn’t safe. When it comes to the loss of biodiversity, Australia has one of the worst records in the world, losing more mammals and plants in the past 200 years than any other country. Now a Senate inquiry is set to address the issue and will be the second such inquiry in six years.

According to ecologists, one in three global mammal extinctions in the last 400 years have occurred in Australia. Roughly 11 per cent of Australia’s 273 endemic land mammal species are already extinct, according to a 2015 study. Experts say efforts to reverse course are hampered by lack of funding, cuts to environment department budgets, poor co-ordination between state and federal departments, a lack of accountability and failure to implement comprehensive management plans for species.

Speaking to RN Breakfast on ABC Radio this morning, Professor Richard Kingsford, director of the Centre of Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, said we’re on a worrying “downhill slide” when it comes to our biodiversity “across all the major realms” of our ecosystem. His research suggests the platypus could soon find itself on the list of threatened species.

Most species decline is driven by degradation and habitat loss, but for the platypus, it’s often hazards left by humans that causes the problems, according to biologist Geoff Williams, a member of the Australian Platypus Conservancy.