Garner's Beach Cassowary

Rehabilitation Centre

  • YEAR: 2020
  • STATE: Queensland
  • FOCUS AREAS: Saving Species/SDG 15: Life on Land

In Australia, the Cassowary is listed as endangered with numbers at around 1,500 to 2,000. But these are guesstimates; no one knows for sure. That’s because Cassowaries live alone in dense forests and they’re hard to count. 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 four or five and can live 40 years or more.

FNPW support

This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.

Project overview

The Garner’s Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre was established in 2001 to provide intensive care and rehabilitation for sick and injured Southern Cassowaries and orphaned chicks. In response to the devastating impact of Cyclone Yasi (2011) on local populations, the Rehabilitation Centre was inundated by affected birds. Since this time, there has been an ongoing need for the operation of the Centre, with multiple chicks or birds being admitted every year.

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 the chicks hatch, they follow the male for six to nine months as he protects them from predators such as wild pigs and dogs. He will also guide them to fruit trees within a home range several hundred acres in size

.Chicks can require care for up to 18 months and depending on what condition an adult bird is in at the time it is admitted for care, the required time in care can vary greatly. In 2014, the threat of the Centre being forced to close due to lack of funds was very real and Rainforest Rescue stepped in as an effort to keep the Centre open and in operation. Rainforest Rescue is now in partnership with the Queensland DEHP TSU to fund the ongoing operations of the Centre.

The current situation at the Centre now is that there are three orphaned cassowary chicks in care.  Two of the chicks have been in care since 11 October 2014 when they were found wandering down a road in south Mission Beach without their father. It is believed he was killed in a dog attack. The third chick came into care on 16 November 2014, at approximately one month, old after being struck by a vehicle in the nearby Etty Bay area. The chick was initially unable to walk, and was later found to have a fractured tailbone. All three chicks are now under the expert care of rangers from the DEHP and the local tropical veterinarians. Thanks to their expert care, each of the birds is doing well and we are pleased to say that the condition of the chick with the fractured tailbone has improved steadily and it is now able to walk!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT

This project was completed in 2016.

FNPW has supported restoration of rainforest habitat and protection of Cassowaries since 2011.

Jon Howell

PROJECT PARTNERS

Rainforest Rescue is the lead organisation for this project.

Further information about our project partner can be found on their website:

www.rainforestrescue.org.au

 

Project gallery

The two siblings, March 2015

The sheltered side of the exercise run at the facility & closer image of the other pond

The exercise area at the facility

The age & size the third chick was when admitted to the Centre (the smallest chick, with the suspected broken tail-bone).

Smallest chick – July 2015

Inside rescue centre

All three chicks together fossicking in their natural way, July 2015

An aerial view of the facility

Latest news on this project.

Thanks to your support, funding to feed and care for three sick and injured orphan Cassowary chicks for at least three months is ensured. 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. The centre was at risk of closing down but now it can keep rehabilitating Cassowaries, including these special young chicks.

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