this platypusa unique species Australiaafter disappearing from the area more than half a century ago, was reintroduced into the country’s oldest national park on Friday in a landmark conservation project south of Sydney.
Known for its beak, webbed feet and venomous spines, the platypus is one of only two egg-laying mammals worldwide and spends most of its night in the water.
Due to their reclusive nature and highly specific habitat needs, most Australians have never seen them in the wild.
The relocation is a collaborative effort between the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Taronga Conservation Society Australia, WWF Australia and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Four women were released on Friday into the Royal National Park, which was established in 1879 and is the second oldest national park in the world.
The park, about 35 kilometers or an hour’s drive south of Sydney, has not had any confirmed platypus sightings since the 1970s.
The relocation comes as the platypus is increasingly threatened by habitat destruction, river degradation, feral predators and extreme weather events such as drought and bushfires.
Estimates of the current population vary widely, from 30,000 to approximately 300,000.
“We’re very excited to see the platypus return to the park, allowing the population here to thrive and Sydneysiders to come and appreciate this amazing animal,” said Gilad Bino, a researcher at UNSW’s Center for Ecosystem Science.
The platypuses, which live on the east coast of Australia and Tasmania, were collected from various locations in south-east New South Wales and underwent various tests before being relocated.
Each platypus will be tracked over the next two years to better understand how to intervene and relocate the species in times of drought, bushfires or floods, the researchers said.
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