Traffic Biggest Risk to Cassowaries
September 24, 2015
New research confirms that traffic is the leading cause of death and injury for cassowaries.
Compiled by the Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Queensland Branch, the new research confirms that traffic is the number one recorded cause of cassowary death and injury. The majority of incidents were shown to be occurring on main roads on the Cassowary Coast, with a number of hotspots being highlighted.
Following the release of the data, Terrain NRM held a Cassowary Vehicle Strike Solutions Workshop with key stakeholders to identify effective solutions for reducing cassowary vehicle strikes. It was attended by Transport & Main Roads, police, local government, scientists and community groups.
James Biggs from Cairns Tropical Zoo and Aquarium Association Queensland Branch said it is estimated there are only 4400 cassowaries left in the Wet Tropics.
“We have 144 records of cassowaries dying as a result of vehicle strike over the last 23 years. If we compare those figures against Australia’s human population, it would be the equivalent of losing 33,000 Australians on the roads every year for the last 23 years. Such a huge loss of genes from the population makes the species weaker, and less resilient to other things like cyclones and disease.”
Tony O’Malley, Terrain NRM’s Community Partnerships Leader, said while a lot of good progress had been made protecting cassowary habitat from clearing, traffic was still one of the biggest threats to cassowaries.
“Terrain has been working with the Zoo and Aquarium Association and others to collate the cassowary incident data so that we can make decisions based on facts. Terrain’s workshop brought all the relevant authorities together in one room so we could work together to identify and implement effective solutions that will make our roads safer for cassowaries and the driving public,” he said.
After attending Terrain’s workshop, a spokesperson from Traffic and Main Roads said they were happy to work with the community to try to prevent further cassowary deaths from vehicle strikes, while maintaining a safe road network for all motorists.