PLATYPUS populations in the Peel River could help reconnect residents with rivers, according to university researchers.
Dr Gilad Bino and a team of scientists from the centre of ecosystem science at the University of NSW were in Tamworth on Friday as part of a project probing into platypus populations and the health of the Peel River.
"They are such an extraordinary animal ... and I think they can serve as real ambassadors to connect people back to the rivers and make sure we're taking care of the rivers," Dr Bino said.
Dr Bino is particularly concerned about water management in the Peel River system and the "priorities" of the people making the calls.
"Stopping environmental flows would be a very big mistake, once a river goes dry and platypus and freshwater species go extinct it is practically impossible to recover these populations," he said.
"The Peel represents an ongoing concern that we have about platypus and potential extinction risks ... where ongoing droughts and unsustainable water use dry up the rivers and pose a significant threat to platypus populations."
Dr Bino and the other scientists from the university have been studying platypi in the Manning and Hastings rivers recently, and are concerned about a population decline and the limited 'baseline' data.
The team met with local environment groups and explored the Peel catchment on Friday, to better understand the condition of the river and to look at setting up a 'citizen science' project in town to monitor river creatures and water flows.