Written by Imogen Kars, edited for online by Ashleigh Whittaker.
Far North Queensland’s favourite mascot is in terrible danger.
It’s been the worst week on record for cassowary deaths, with three dying in two days in North Queensland.
The aptly named Cassowary Coast, situated south of Cairns, is now more determined than ever to save their beloved bird.
The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland estimates there are around 4,000 cassowaries left in the wild.
Threatened by mass forest clearing, poor dog management and road accidents, there’s a mere 300 left in the Cassowary Coast area.
Local veterinarian Graham Lauridson was last week forced to euthanise two, one which had been struck by a vehicle and another that had been attacked by a dog.
The third was found dead on a local road, killed after being hit by a car.
There have been multiple calls for the Queensland State Government to commit to cassowary conservation, but so far there have been no significant changes.
Mission Beach Cassowaries President Liz Gallies said the recent deaths are part of an ongoing problem, and nothing is being done about it.
“We’ve got high speed roads cutting through cassowaries’ habitats and cassowaries getting regularly killed on the known hotspots where we’ve got multiple deaths. One of them in particular, there has been over twenty known deaths there.”
Andrew Piccone from the Cairns department of the Australian Conservation Fund said he hopes the deaths may just be the push the government needs.
“I would like to think that every death that is a blow to the cassowary population actually moves us forward in better outcomes and more evidence that the system is not actually working. We need stronger laws to protect our threatened species.”
Local North Queensland residents are worried for the species, as the cassowary is arguably the breadwinner in the Wet Tropic’s tourism industry.
But only the luckiest tourists get to see the bird in the wild.
Ms.Gallies said the cassowary is enormously important to the region.
“The cassowary is really, really important for tourism … Mission Beach is on the map as being the best place to see a cassowary in the wild.”
She said the community and the government need to work together if anything significant is going to change.
“We just want the government to really work together, I think that’s the thing…If we all work together we can actually stop them being killed on the roads.”
The cassowary is listed as endangered.