Garner's Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre Project

FNPW Project Focus:
Threatened Species

Project Partners
FNPW & Rainforest Rescue

Garner's Beach, North Queensland

Thanks to your support, funding burdens to feed and care for three sick and injured orphan Cassowary chicks for at least three months were lifted. This allowed the only Cassowary rehabilitation centre to remain open. Southern Cassowaries are endangered and as few as 2,000 remain in the wild. Encroaching development means that cassowaries are more frequently the victims of car strikes, dog attacks, and diseases, and orphaned chicks can starve. Before, the centre was at risk of closing down. Now, it can keep rehabilitating Cassowaries, including these special young chicks.

In Australia the bird is listed as endangered; most tallies put the number of cassowaries around 1,500 to 2,000. But these are guesstimates: No one knows for sure. The trouble is, cassowaries are hard to count. They live alone, in dense forests.

Cassowary males and females look pretty much the same when they're young, but females eventually grow about a foot taller, reaching some six feet. They start breeding at age 4 or 5 and can live 40 years or more. The birds are solitary aside from brief encounters during the breeding season. Females abandon their one-pound eggs soon after laying them, and males build a rudimentary nest on the forest floor and incubate up to five eggs for almost two months. After chicks hatch, they follow the male for six to nine months as he protects them from predators such as wild pigs and dogs, and guides them to fruit trees within a home range several hundred acres in size. Scientists studying cassowary scat have identified the seeds of 300 plant species, making the bird a key player in spreading rain-forest plants over great distances.