Cyclone Yasi Response 08/02/11


QPWS staff have undertaken on-ground and “fly-over” assessments of some of the affected areas and the results are informing preparation of the cassowary response plan. The ranges behind Cardwell and Ingham (important mahogany glider habitat) are likely to have been affected, but have not yet been assessed. A further fly-over assessment of affected areas will occur tomorrow with Dr David Westcott CSIRO scientist and member of the Cassowary Recovery Team.

Subject to aerial assessment, an aerial food drop at selected sites is expected to occur by the end of the week. New monitoring cameras are being purchased and GIS mapping from Cyclone Larry is being reviewed re. the location of feeding stations and cameras. Subject to access restrictions, feed stations will be progressively set up over the coming weeks. The Garner’s Beach Cassowary Facility has significant structural damage and no power but all 4 birds in care have survived and efforts are being made to make the facility operational as soon as possible.

Information materials, media, briefings, etc from Cyclone Larry are being reviewed and updated to inform post-Yasi response. As previously stated, the views of Cassowary Recovery Team and those involved with the post-Larry response are welcome. Stakeholder engagement is being led by Cassowary Response Team and supported by WTMA and Terrain.

Bob Irwin, Save The Cassowary and Rainforest Rescue have started campaigns to raise funds for post-cyclone cassowary conservation. The post cyclone Larry feeding program cost approximately $500,000 and ran for over 18 months. It’s not possible to calculate how much it will cost per cassowary per day but QPWS anticipates needing to supply approximately 1100 kg’s of fruit per week, and costs are likely to exceed several thousand dollars per week.

There is a lot of interest in cassowaries as a result of the cyclone, and if we can effectively harness public concern it may help to leverage longer-term support for cassowary research, conservation, and habitat restoration. The speed of response from conservation groups has been amazing and will no doubt provide a vital contribution to recovery efforts.

From media reports, we’re aware that some residents in the Mission Beach area have started hand-feeding cassowaries. Please take every opportunity to discourage this. Habituation of birds to humans rarely ends well. We’ll be trying to ensure that information is disseminated throughout affected areas as soon as possible. We’ve also heard concerns from some of you about people speeding on the roads around Mission Beach despite the amount debris, and with cassowaries likely to be on the move this is a real concern. If you know these people, please remind them to slow down. WTMA will send more cassowary car stickers down to Mission Beach as soon as possible.