New research finds that the severe climate change effects in Australia are putting yet another species at risk: platypuses.
According to a new study from the University of New South Wales Sydney Centre for Ecosystem Science, the semi-aquatic mammals are being driven toward extinction as the droughts in Australia are destroying the species’s land and water resources.
The study argues that there is “an urgent need for a national risk assessment” as the number of platypuses in the world has been cut in half.
This sharp decline in the species has already caused an extinction across 40 percent of the mammals’ range, scientists explain.
Several authors of the study assert the importance of taking immediate action to prevent total extinction of the animal.
“These dangers further expose the platypus to even worse local extinctions with no capacity to repopulate areas,” lead author Dr. Gilad Bino said.
Professor Brendan Wintle from the University of Melbourne related the platypuses situation to that of the koalas in Australia.
“We should learn from the peril facing the koala to understand what happens when we ignore the warning signs,” he said.
While the platypus is “secretive and nocturnal” and is not listed in most areas of Australia, the study says, the UNSW research team will continue to study the “enigmatic animal.”
As the Australia wildfires continue to plague the country, ecologists fear that several more animals are at risk of becoming extinct as well.
Numerous species native to Australia were already on the path to extinction ahead of the fires, ecologists pointed out, which now makes conservation efforts nearly impossible as millions of animals have likely perished in the fires.
In an investigation published by The Guardian earlier this month, experts explain that the fires are pushing back conservation efforts by decades as “many dozens” of threatened species have been destroyed, to the point of “entire distributions” being burnt.
“It feels like we have hit a turning point that we predicted was coming as a consequence of climate change,” Australian National University Professor Sarah Legge told the outlet. “We are now in uncharted territory.”