The southern cassowary is an endangered species with an estimated population of 1,500.
They are the third largest flightless bird and choose to live solitary lives. Cassowaries live in the rainforest and feed on fruits, insects and small reptiles. They create a powerful presence with their horny helmet and talon-like claws that can grow to up to 12cm long!
The large, flightless Southern Cassowary is a resident of the north-eastern rainforests of Queensland. Due to the tall, bony helmet (called a casque) and 120mm claw on the inside
toe of each foot, cassowaries are also known as ‘Rainforest Warriors’. They use their casque to tear a path through thick undergrowth and their claws to defend their young.
New trees from poo
Cassowaries feed on almost anything, including fallen fruit, fungi, snails and
dead or living rats, birds and lizards. Due to its body and territory size, cassowaries make excellent rainforest gardeners. Seeds pass through the bird’s body intact, and in this way it disperses the seeds of more than 100 plant species.
On the brink – twofold
There are many reasons why the Southern Cassowary is an endangered species, however interference with its habitat is a serious problem for not only the bird but for many plant species. The cassowary maybe the only seed-disperser in its habitat and the loss of this species could mean the loss of the only method of seed dispersal for many rainforest
Did you know? Although the emu is Australia’s tallest bird, the cassowary is the heaviest, with females weighing up to 70kg.