Living with Cassowaries
The Southern Cassowary has held important physical, cultural and spiritual significance for the Aboriginal peoples of Northern Queensland for many thousands of years.
The Traditional Owners understood the role the cassowary played in maintaining the rainforest – which provided food, fresh water, shelter and materials for arts and crafts, medicines and herbs.
In the modern world, it’s easy to forget the role rainforests still play in supporting and regulating many of the planet’s most critical natural processes: rainfall, absorption of carbon dioxide and combating climate change. These ‘eco-systems services’ are estimated to be worth trillions of dollars per year globally.
Today the Southern Cassowary faces serious threats from development and disease to natural disasters. The captive breeding program undertaken in zoos around the world is helping to maintain this magnificent creature for future generations, but we need to act now if we are to continue to see the cassowaries thrive in the wild.
CASSOWARY FAST FACTS
CASSOWARY ETIQUETTE – If you are lucky enough to live among cassowaries or are visiting areas where they live, please take these steps to ensure the safety both of you and these magnificent birds.
DO NOT FEED CASSOWARIES – Cassowaries can become used to hand-feeding, thus increasing their exposure to the risks posed in developed areas, such as vehicle strikes and dog attacks. Following cyclones, the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service organises feeding in a manner that is safe for both birds and people. If you live in a cassowary area dispose of food rubbish safely and secure your compost bin to prevent ‘raids’ by cassowaries and other wildlife.
DRIVE CAREFULLY – Road accidents are the leading cause of cassowary mortality in Queensland. Drive safely in cassowary country and be alert for cassowary crossing signs and the birds themselves. Do not throw rubbish or feed cassowaries from your vehicle. Alert oncoming drivers to cassowaries on the road by flashing your headlights.
CONTROL YOUR DOGS – Dog attacks are responsible for many cassowary injuries and deaths, especially of juvenile birds and chicks. If you live in a cassowary area, don’t let your dogs roam free and keep them secured, especially at night.
AVOID CONFRONTATION – Treat cassowaries with respect. Cassowaries have been known to attack people when they have eggs or chicks to defend. Do not pick up cassowary chicks or approach family groups. If confronted, remain calm and back away slowly. Protect your front with a bag or backpack if possible, and shelter behind a tree. Do not run away as cassowaries can run faster than most people!
REPORTING SIGHTINGS – If you see an injured or at-risk cassowary please call 1300 130 372 (24 hours).
Please report non-urgent sightings to help build local knowledge via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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