THE iconic platypus could be on the "brink of extinction" according to a new study and there are grave concerns for New England's population, particularly those in the Peel River.
The University of NSW study predicts local extinctions may have occurred across 40 per cent of the species' range due to dam building, land clearing and other disruptions.
NSW government experts believe the Hunter, New England and Central West areas are of the "most concern".
"This is because river systems in these regions are badly affected by drought," a spokesperson said.
There are fears the Peel River's population has been decimated by the decision to cut the waterway's flow at Dungowan.
Loomberah farmer Mark Strass backs on to the Peel, where he use to regularly see platypus. Since the river was cut, "all evidence of them has disappeared", while his neighbour came across a dead one in his paddock.
"As far as I know, as soon as the river stops flowing, platypus are out of their depth," Mr Strass said.
"There are no watering holes in our section. I think they've all perished."
Water NSW is releasing up environmental pulse flows of up to 30 megalitres a week to support wildlife in the dry section of the Peel, however Mr Strass said it was having "little to no affect" and his section was "bone dry".
"I think the government has underestimated the impact cutting the river would have," he said.
"Mother Nature generally gives wildlife some indication that the water's running out, so they should find a bigger hole.
"If the river went dry naturally, it would occurred over a period of time, but the Peel dried up in two days."
Aussie Ark recently relocated a nine platypus from the Barrington River, which has run dry. However, the volunteers were also shocked to find two platypus that had only just died.