The Humane Society International Australia (HSI) is offering a $5000 reward for any information about the people who killed three platypuses found this week in the Albury Botanic Gardens. In what's believed to be a deliberate attack, two of the creatures had been decapitated.
It has been labelled a "despicable act of animal cruelty" by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
A spokesperson for the NPWS told The Huffington Post Australia on Tuesday that a vet's post mortem examination found two of the platypuses "heads were removed with a sharp object", while the third was found dead but intact.
The Humane Society is offering the reward in an attempt to seek justice and assist with investigations. It's hoped the reward will be an incentive for anyone with information about the identity of the platypus killers to come forward.
In a statement, the Humane Society said the platypus is a typically shy animal protected under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
"This beloved wildlife species is very rare and has the highest level of evolutionary distinctiveness of any mammal species worldwide. It is heartbreaking that such senseless acts have taken place towards such beautiful and innocent creatures, and impossible to comprehend why anyone would be so cruel," Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain said.
"HSI hopes that by offering this substantial reward, we will help to bring the perpetrators to justice before more platypuses or any other wildlife is targeted."
The harming of any native animals is an offence in New South Wales and the crime carries penalties including a fine of up to $11,000 and/or six months imprisonment.
HSI urges anyone with information about the case to come forward, and assures that any identities will not be disclosed.
If you can help, please call Crime Stoppers at Albury Police on (02) 6023 9299 with any information.