How many cassowaries are there in the Wet Tropics?

Cassowary, Photo: Campbell Clarke

The Wet Tropics is home to about 4,400 cassowaries, with a minimum of five percent being the year’s youngsters. The figure is based on several years of monitoring and DNA analysis by Dr David Westcott and his team of researchers at CSIRO under the National Environmental Research Program.

Their Wet Tropics surveys  covered 1886 kilometres and 156 transects. They recorded 1444 cassowary signs (dung, feathers, tracks and sightings). They also did 170 surveys of focus sites and recorded 296 signs of cassowaries. The DNA of 435 sub-samples was analysed from 134 different dung samples.

Management implications

Cassowary juvenile, Photo: Campbell Clarke

What do the population numbers mean for cassowary conservation?

  • The population estimate is consistent with the upper range of previous estimates undertaken 20 years ago.
  • While these cassowary population numbers are larger than have been often quoted, they are still small enough to place the cassowary at risk from chance events such as cyclones, genetic effects, and increasingly fragmented habitat.
  • The conservation status of the cassowary remains endangered and populations are likely to decrease if habitat fragmentation worsens and cyclones become more intense or more frequent with climate change.
  • Future investment in cassowary management should focus on cassowary habitat protection and connectivity.
  • A regular cassowary monitoring program (for local focus sites and the Wet Tropics region) is essential to track population trends and life histories.
  • Cassowary monitoring with Traditional Owners in Cape York should be established to survey the increasingly fragmented populations in areas such as the McIlwraith Range.
Project 3.4 Final Report - Estimation of the population size and distribution of the southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, in the Wet Tropics Region of Australia

Project 3.4 Final Report – Estimation of the population size and distribution of the southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, in the Wet Tropics Region of Australia

 

You can download the full report above or visit the NERP website for more information.

Reference: Westcott, D., Metcalfe, S., Jones, D., Bradford, M., McKeown, A., Ford, A. (2014) Estimation of the population size and distribution of the southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, in the Wet Tropics Region of Australia Project © CSIRO

Cyclone Yasi Response 14/02/12

CYCLONE YASI UPDATE FROM DERM 14/02/12
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“Twelve months have now passed since Cyclone Yasi damaged large areas of cassowary habitat between Cardwell and Innisfail and at Mission Beach on 2 and 3 February 2011.

The forest is showing significant signs of recovery. Trees now contain significant re-growth, and flowering and fruit development continue to increase, highlighting the resilience of these forests. However, due to the significant damage to the forest caused by the cyclone, the supply of rainforest fruits is still at a low level.

Continue reading

Traffic impacts on cassowaries

Road mortality is the greatest cause of known cassowary deaths at Mission Beach. Between 1992 and June 2010, at least 60 cassowaries died on local roads. At the request of Terrain NRM, James Cook University (JCU) undertook significant research into traffic impacts on cassowaries (and other fauna) on Mission Beach roads.  Continue reading

Welcome!

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Welcome to the website of the Cassowary Recovery Team (CRT), a group of organisations working together to implement the Recovery Plan for the Southern Cassowary and ‘protect cassowaries, habitats and corridors from threats through better planning, monitoring and community involvement’ .

We hope you enjoy exploring the site and learning more about the endangered Southern Cassowary and how we’re working to protect these magnificent birds. 

Cyclone Yasi Response 14/06/11

CYCLONE YASI RESPONSE UPDATE FROM WTMA & DERM 14/06/11

The Cassowary Response Team has continued operations since Cyclone Yasi damaged large areas of cassowary habitat between Cardwell and Innisfail and at Mission Beach on 2 and 3 February 2011. At 14 June 2011, DERM had 104 active feed stations from the Cardwell Range north to Flying Fish Point. A total of more than 49,000 kg of fruit has been distributed. Continue reading

Cyclone Yasi Response 27/04/11

CYCLONE YASI RESPONSE UPDATE FROM WTMA & DERM 27/04/11

Birds Australia North Queensland (BANQ) have also been actively supporting cassowary recovery efforts with a donation of $10,000 towards the CSIRO-led DNA-based assessment of the impact of the feeding programme, and have applied for more funding from a variety of other sources to help support David Westcott’s monitoring programme. The Thorsborne Trust has also kindly donated $3,000. Continue reading

Cyclone Yasi Response 04/04/11

CYCLONE YASI RESPONSE UPDATE FROM WTMA & DERM 04/04/11

  • DERM has established 99 feed stations from the Cardwell Range north to Flying Fish Point
  • 10,500 kg of fruit has been distributed, mainly to feeding stations.
  • Despite the wet weather, crews have been able to access most feed stations from their work bases at Innisfail, Cardwell and Garners Beach.
  • Over four hundred hours of volunteer time has been committed to the program and over 30 landholders are supporting feed stations. Continue reading