The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is a large flightless bird found only in North Queensland, New Guinea and the Aru Islands.

It has been referred to as a flagship or keystone species and has cultural, social and economic value to traditional owners, local residents and the tourism industry. It also plays a key role in rainforest habitat by dispersing many plant seeds, particularly long distance dispersal of species with large seeds.

Terrain has been playing a key role in facilitating a number of projects to protect and recover the cassowary, particularly around the Cassowary Coast area near Mission Beach.

Cassowaries are large animals that need to cover a lot of territory to access the resources they need so their fragmented habitat, caused by development, is a major threat to their survival.

One of the ways in which Terrain is working to help protect cassowaries is by collaborating with partners to identify cassowary corridors so they can be included in town planning and other land use planning documents.

Threats to the cassowary

  • Development
  • Habitat clearing and weed invasion
  • Roads and traffic
  • Dogs
  • Feral pigs
  • Hand feeding
  • Diseases
  • Extreme climatic events such as cyclones, wildfire and climate change

Legislation protecting the cassowary

  • International: Listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Australia: Listed as endangered under the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Act.
  • Queensland: The Wet Tropics population of about 4,400 cassowaries is listed as 'endangered' under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

What is Terrain doing to help protect the Cassowary?

Terrain is part of the Cassowary Recovery Team, a group of organisations that work together to coordinate the recovery plan for cassowaries and their habitat. Some of the projects Terrain is involved in include:

Revegetation and weed management to improve and increase cassowary habitat so they can move through their habitat more easily

Gathering of data to map cassowary corridors for town planning purposes

Collecting information on cassowary incidents to keep stakeholders informed

Coordinating stakeholders to find solutions to threats and risks to cassowaries

Promoting community awareness of cassowaries including the creation of road signs during festivals.

For more information about Terrain NRM's work on cassowary-related projects, visit our Mission Beach page.

Federal and state government roles

The Federal and State Government pages about cassowaries provide information on the Recovery Plan, habitat mapping, development guidelines, etc.

The Threatened Species Commissioner and Threatened Species Strategy help implement the Australian Government’s priorities.

Other stakeholders

The Cassowary Recovery Team webpage provides links to many other stakeholders and cassowary news.

Follow a young cassowary named 'Peanut' on his journey through a corridor at Mission Beach in Far North Queensland when his father leaves him alone for the very first time.