Cassowary Conservation

Cassowary Conservation

The southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius johnsonii, is one of the most loved and easily recognised icons of the Wet Tropics, holding great cultural significance to Rainforest Aboriginal people and local communities throughout the Wet Tropics. Cassowaries are a keystone species, playing a key role in maintaining the diversity and ecological balance of the rainforest.

Due to its iconic status and ecological significance, the Wet Tropics Management Authority takes a keen interest in cassowary conservation, providing advice to local government and state infrastructure agencies to reduce the impacts of development on cassowaries.  The Wet Tropics Management Authority helped to establish the Cassowary Recovery Team (CRT) in 2007 from the former Cassowary Advisory Group and other key stakeholders as well as assisting in the development of the CRT Terms of Reference. The Wet Tropics Management Authority established and maintains the CRT website and provides ongoing secretariat support for the group.

The Cassowary Recovery Team 

The primary function of the CRT is to coordinate implementation of the Recovery Plan for the Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius johnsonii under the EPBC Act, the objective of which is to "protect cassowaries, habitats and corridors from threats through better planning, monitoring and community involvement". The recovery plan states the necessary actions required to protect important populations of cassowaries, as well as how to manage and reduce threatening processes.

The CRT plays an important role in ensuring community, government and research activities undertaken in support of cassowary conservation through implementation of the recovery plan are aligned and coordinated, and that knowledge is shared as a basis for informed action.

The CRT assisted in the maintenance of databases within the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) to record and distribute information about cassowary incidents and cassowary sightings.

The CRT website acts as a central resource for anyone interested in cassowary conservation in Australia. The site incorporates information about southern cassowaries, where to see them, how to report sightings, educational resources, meeting agendas, news and upcoming events.

Major achievements under the Recovery Plan include:

  • Cassowary habitat mapping completed and essential habitat recognised by Queensland Government.
  • Significant acquisition of properties by public and private sector in the Daintree, Mission Beach and Kuranda areas for cassowary conservation and local connectivity.
  • Cassowary corridors such as Donaghy’s, Kuranda EnviroCare and Southern Tablelands corridors completed.
  • Increased signs and traffic calming measures in the Daintree and Mission Beach areas.
  • Post- cyclone feeding programs and protocols by the Queensland Government.
  • Garners Beach Cassowary Recovery Facility, now operated by Rainforest Rescue under agreement with EHP.
  • Successful methods developed for cassowary immobilisation, restraint, transport and satellite tracking.
  • Improvements in cassowary husbandry and care techniques.
  • Scat DNA collection coordinated by CSIRO to determine cassowary population dynamics, demographics and population sizes.
  • EHP collection of incident and mortality data and EHP/vet collection of post-mortem data
  • New community approaches for collecting cassowary sightings and movements and involving the public in record collection and sharing information through social media
  • Websites such as Cassowary Recovery Team, Kuranda Conservation, Mission Beach Cassowaries, Save the Cassowary which educate and involve the public in cassowary behaviour, conservation, research and monitoring
  • Cassowary education campaigns through news media, documentaries and visitor sites, for example, Be Cass-O-Wary, Slow Down stickers and ‘a fed bird is a dead bird’.
  • The Save the Cassowary campaign was initiated by Rainforest Rescue and the Zoo and Aquarium Association.

Cassowary Summit 2009

A Cassowary Summit was held in 2009 at the Tanks, Cairns. It was organised by the Wet Tropics Management Authority and the Cassowary Recovery Team. The summit provided an opportunity to share information and discuss cassowary issues to help protect this endangered species. It brought together indigenous, conservation, community, tourist industry, scientific community and government to increase their understandings of cassowary issues. The summit included a conference, a public forum, a school play, information stalls and a scientific workshop. The aim was to share information, to dispel myths, discuss facts and work towards a positive future for the cassowary. 


The conference session themes included:

1. What do we know about cassowaries?
2. Who values cassowaries and how the community contributes to cassowary management?
3. How should we manage cassowaries?
4. Q&A Session - panel members explore cassowary conservation issues.

Click here for copies of the Cassowary Summit proceedings and outcomes of the scientific workshop (1MB).

Save the Cassowary campaign

Rainforest Rescue held its Save the Cassowary campaign launch at the Sydney Wildlife Zoo in Darling Harbour on Monday 17 March 2014. The campaign aims to raise local, national and international awareness about the plight of the endangered cassowary and to educate the public about its importance in rainforest conservation.

The endangered southern cassowary will be Rainforest Rescue’s 2014 ambassador species and the voice of the rainforest. Rainforest Rescue has initiated the Save the Cassowary campaign in collaboration with the Zoo Aquarium Association and partner zoos, the Queensland Department of Environment Heritage & Protection, local councils, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and business partners to highlight the plight of the cassowary, our rainforest gardener.

The campaign is closely aligned with the Rainforest Rescue’s expanded activities in the Wet Tropics which include rainforest buy-back, habitat restoration, cassowary population monitoring, community education, and support for the Garners Beach Cassowary Recovery Facility.

You can find out more by visiting the Save the Cassowary campaign website.

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