Platypuses May Face Long-Term Problems From Wildfires
A researcher working with the San Diego Zoo worries Australia’s recent wildfires may be hurting the country’s platypus population.
The wildfires were so widespread and damaging that they fouled many of the waterways where the animal lives and eats.
Ecologist Josh Griffiths worries the country’s massive bush fires may have caused serious harm to the country’s platypus population.
The wildfires were so large in spots that some smaller streams were evaporated and large rivers were fouled. Fire ash has also found its way into pristine habitats downstream. That makes it hard on the bugs that platypuses eat for survival.
The animals were already considered threatened before the fires hit.
“The areas that were once a stronghold for platypuses have now been burned out,” said Josh Griffiths, an Australian ecologist. “And we’ve got serious concerns about what that kind of impact is going to have on populations.”
Griffiths is working on an accurate population count for the elusive animal, research that’s funded in part by the San Diego Zoo’s Australia relief fund.
He worries the environmental fallout from the fires could persist and that is bad for the animals that need a watery habitat to thrive.
“I guess it’s already persisted at least for several weeks at the moment and that would probably be enough to impact the macroinvertebrates and bugs that form the food supply of platypuses,” Griffiths said. “Their food supply is going to be impacted and therefore the animals just aren’t going to be able to survive in those areas.”
The zoo recently welcomed platypuses to an Australia display at the Safari Park. They are the only platypuses on display outside of their native country.