How to reduce cassowary deaths

Kathryn Dryden
September 2, 2016

How to reduce cassowary deaths

A cassowary dad and his three chicks have been regularly crossing El Arish-Mission Beach Rd in the last week or two. Terrain contacted Main Roads with an offer to produce and install special temporary “dad and chicks” signage (designed by Liz Gallie) at the crossing site at no cost to Main Roads. Main Roads went one better and brought in variable message signs. Tragically, the next morning (today), two of the chicks were run over.

What can we do about it?

We need to confidentially interview drivers involved in cassowary vehicle strikes and near-strikes to understand the following:

  • who are the drivers and what is their demographic (are they locals or visitors, young or old)
  • what is their attitude to driving and wildlife, etc
  • what factors do the drivers believe contributed to the strike or enabled the driver to avoid the strike?
  • what changes might result in less strikes?

Then we will have a better idea of the people we need to be working with and what sort of communication, messages and actions might work best for them.

Also we need to understand the influences on cassowary behaviour in crossing roads, e.g. to what extent does feeding, drinking water, native fruit, exotic fruit, fences, dogs, etc influence where, when and how often cassowaries cross roads; and what are the characteristics of roads and habitat where cassowaries cross safely versus unsafely, etc?

When we know these things,  we will be able to confidently invest in  on-ground action that achieves both driver and cassowary safety.

We need resources to do this work properly. Terrain is more than happy to work with partners to get these projects happening if resources are made available by government or private sector.