Garners Beach cassowaries

The Cassowary Recovery Facility at Garners Beach is currently home to five chicks and one adult.

Two more very young chicks have arrived in the past two weeks. One from Licuala National Park is now eating and running around quite well after ten days. Another chick arrived a few days ago from Hull Heads, found in a back yard going on dark. The owner of the property had never seen an adult cassowary on his property ever before.  The chick came into the veterinary surgery quite weak and dehydrated.  After an evening of apple, banana and supplements and a quick lesson from the veterinary nurses on how to pick up food off the ground, the chick had made an amazing recovery.  A physical exam  showed the chick to be quite bright and feisty by morning.

The young chick from Hull Heads

The young chick from Hull Heads – Photo courtesy of Graham Lauridsen

The two chicks will be kept in adjacent pens for a week or so until the quarantine period has passed and then they will be placed together so they can grow up like siblings.

Yesterday, a six-foot female cassowary was taken to the recovery facility after being hit by a car near South Mission Beach. She was assessed by local veterinarian, Dr Graham Lauridsen, and it is hoped she will make a full recovery. Fortunately, the Department of Environment and Heritage had recently made improvements to the facility so it can once again accept adult birds.

You can read more in this media release about the Queensland Government commitment of up to $50,000 for  cassowary rehabilitation to keep the Garners Beach centre running.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has put out a Cassowary Rehabilitation Expression of Interest to provide for financial sponsorship, rehabilitation services or organisational support at the Garners Beach Cassowary Recovery Facility.

The young chick from Hull Heads

The young chick from Hull Heads – Photo courtesy of Graham Lauridsen

Cassowary breeding season

Male cassowary and chick, Photo: Tony Kennedy

Male cassowary and chick, Photo: Tony Kennedy

It’s cassowary breeding season and time to watch out for young chicks wandering around with dad. Some of the messages we want local communities to heed are:

  • Some fathers are still sitting on eggs and are vulnerable to dogs. Please keep dogs restrained and report any dogs roaming in cassowary territory to the local council.
  • Please don’t feed young chicks and allow them to develop bad habits. These habits can become more dangerous for cassowaries and people as they mature and become more aggressive and dominant.
  • Keep an extra eye out on the road because the chicks may be trailing behind the adult father.
  • There may also be a few young adults around looking for territory and still getting used to being on their own. They too are vulnerable to dogs and traffic.
  • Recent road crossing hotspots on the Cassowary Coast include Flying Fish Point, Mourilyan Harbour, Etty Bay Road, Jubilee Road, Bramston Beach Road, Coquette Point Road, Tully-Mission Beach Road, and Alexander Drive, and Mission Beach.
Sub-adult cassowary crossing the road, Photo: Deb Pople

Sub-adult cassowary crossing the road, Photo: Deb Pople


Cassowaries and vehicles caught on camera

Kuranda Conservation recently received grant funds for motion-activated cameras to help identify the number of cassowaries in the Kuranda region.These are the first shots from cameras set up near Black Mountain Road which show a  cassowary about to cross the road (arrowed below). Also captured are the logging trucks which use the road. The drivers recognise the need for care and slow down at this known cassowary crossing, but it does highlight the danger from all vehicles for these birds.

To find out more, see the monitoring page on the Kuranda Conservation website.

To report any sightings of cassowaries in the Kuranda region, see the sightings page on the Kuranda Conservation website.

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New cassowary planning guidelines

New guidelines will help town planners and developers to protect the habitat of the region’s iconic cassowary and mahogany glider.

Cassowary at Coquette PointHabitat corridors connecting sections of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area are very important for the long term survival of cassowaries. Ecological corridors are a vital part of every Council’s new planning scheme. Good planning makes sure that their habitat is conserved and includes ecological corridors for wildlife to move across the landscape.

You can read more in the media release and cassowary guidelines flyer.

You can download the full Cassowaries in Planning Schemes Guideline. 

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