Christmas Call Out to Slow Down for Cassowaries and their Chicks
Motorists are reminded to slow down and watch out for cassowary dads and their chicks when driving in tropical north Queensland during the festive season.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said at this time of year male cassowaries were teaching their chicks foraging skills.
“Like most wildlife, cassowaries move through the rainforest in search of food, and they will cross a road if it passes through their habitat,” Ms Enoch said.
“That does make them vulnerable to vehicle strike, particularly in areas like Mission Beach and Garners Beach where dense vegetation grows so close to the roadside.”
Ms Enoch said male cassowaries assumed the responsibilities of parenthood once the female had laid between three-to-five large, olive-green eggs, generally between June and October.
“The eggs are incubated by the male and, once they hatch, he’s the one who raises the chicks until they are able to fend for themselves,” she said.
“To see a cassowary in the wild is one of the great attractions for many visitors to the beautiful Cassowary Coast, but motorists need to be aware that they can emerge quite suddenly from the dense rainforest onto the road.”
Department of Environment and Science Northern Wildlife Operations Manager Dr Matt Brien said injured cassowaries were treated at the Queensland Government’s Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre, which has been operating since 2001, or at the Tablelands Cassowary Facility, owned by Rainforest Reserves Australia, which opened in April 2017.
“The Queensland Government has worked for many years to protect cassowaries and cassowary habitat in the Wet Tropics region,” Dr Brien said.
“Around 80 per cent of cassowary habitat in the Wet Tropics is now protected area estate."
Latest estimates suggest there are around 4500 cassowaries in the Wet Tropics, however threats to their survival include habitat fragmentation, vehicle strikes and dog attacks.
People living in or visiting cassowary territory can help protect these iconic native beautiful birds by:
- Retaining vegetation on properties as cassowary feeding grounds and corridors
- Being careful when driving, slowing down and avoiding the animals
- Restraining domestic dogs
- Never feeding the cassowaries, especially on the side of the road where they might be hit by passing cars
- Letting cassowaries find their own food
Sick, injured and orphaned cassowaries can be reported to the Department of Environment and Science on 1300 130 372.