The Southern Cassowary
(Casuarius casuarius johnsonii)
Adult Male Cassowary
Cassowaries are endangered and continue to lose habitat and be killed by vehicles and dogs. Only 1000 -1500 birds are left with some estimates suggesting there are less than 1000! We must act to ensure this special rainforest bird is given a secure future.
The Importance of Cassowaries
Besides being a keystone species in the Wet Tropics Rainforests, cassowaries are of great cultural significance to many Indigenous Rainforest peoples, and are an icon of tourism in Far North Queensland. Being a keystone species means that they play an integral part in the maintenance of the forest ecosystem.
Cassowary Plum (Cerbera floribunda)
Their most significant contribution to the ecology of the forest is as a disperser of rainforest fruits. Cassowaries eat up to 150 different fruit species; it is estimated that 70 to 100 plant species depend almost entirely on the cassowary for seed dispersal.
Cassowaries are the only native animals large enough to eat many of the larger fleshy rainforest fruits with large seeds. The cassowaries digestive system is gentle on the seed allowing it to travel through the gut unharmed. When they are excreted the seeds are embedded in the dung - their own mini compost pile.
The smell from the dung keeps seed predators, such as the white tailed rat, away from the seeds and the fertiliser helps to keep the seed moist and feed the germinating seedling. The seed remains in the cassowary's gut for approximately 10 hours, ensuring they are deposited some distance away from the parent tree.
To survive, cassowaries need large areas of rainforest. There is a need for protection of existing habitat and greater control of dogs and pigs. As well as creating protected areas such as National Parks, some people are establishing nurseries of cassowary food plants to restore rainforest on cleared land and create corridors to link remaining patches of vegetation.
- Save The Southern Cassowary
- Daintree Buyback & Protect Forever Project
- Daintree Properties Saved So Far
- Daintree Buyback & Protect Forever FAQ's
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