Platypus numbers good at Malmsbury

Eight platypus – six males and two females – were recorded during a recent trapping survey along the Coliban River at Malmsbury.
All were in good condition and were released back to the wild after being examined by researchers from the Australian Platypus Conservancy, assisted by members of Malmsbury District Landcare Group who funded the study.
Malmsbury Landcare president John Walter noted that platypus were encountered at all five of the sites where nets were set.
The trapping area sampled three kilometres of river channel, from the Malmsbury viaduct to just below Ellis Falls.
The findings were similar to a survey carried out by the APC in the same area in 2001.
This outcome was particularly welcome given concerns by a number of residents that platypus sightings were not as frequent as in the past.
A recent (2019) eDNA survey confirmed the presence of platypus at Malmsbury but could not provide any information about the size or health of the population.
“It’s great to see that the population in our section of the river is still doing well,” Mr Walter said.
“Despite fears that numbers were reduced during the Millennium Drought we now have good reason to believe that the population has bounced back.
“Hopefully the work we have been doing to improve habitat along the river has helped, and the recent regime of environmental releases from Malmsbury Reservoir by Coliban Water has also undoubtedly been a positive for platypus.”
APC biologist Dr Melody Serena said that in addition to the good news about platypus, the recent fieldwork had confirmed that rakali (Australian water-rats) were also thriving along this waterway. This attractive native rodent, which in many ways is the Aussie equivalent of a small otter, was found at four of the five survey sites.
“While it is great to see such positive results, we still need to continue the tremendous work that is already being done by the landcare group and others to improve environmental conditions along the river,” Ms Serena said.
“Getting conditions right for platypus is a big plus for all the other animals that share its aquatic world.”

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