Visual monitoring by groups (Platypus Group Watch)
Platypus Group Watch provides a standardised method for teams of volunteers to count platypus numbers periodically (in one or more sessions per year). The basic aim is to obtain a snapshot of the number of platypus (and/or water-rats) active in a particular area.
This typically involves stationing pairs of observers at 5 to 12 points distributed along 600 metres to 2 kilometres of stream or river channel, so they can scan for animals for one hour near dawn or dusk. Group Watch sessions are most likely to be informative and rewarding if they are carried out in an area where reasonably high numbers of platypus and/or water-rats occur.
Undertaking just one survey per year is perfectly acceptable – any information gained about the status of local platypus and water-rat populations will have value. However, to improve the quality of results, at least two Group Watch sessions should ideally be conducted annually along each section of waterway to be monitored.
In addition to contributing to platypus and water-rat conservation, Group Watch sessions can also be a very rewarding social activity for all types of community-based environmental organisations, including Landcare and Friends groups.
Groups who are interested in undertaking platypus observation sessions are invited to contact the Australian Platypus Conservancy for an information kit.