Rehabilitated cassowaries released back into the wild

Issued: 25 Oct 2022

Rehabilitating sick and injured cassowaries poses many challenges, but it is extremely rewarding to watch a healthy bird scamper from its cage and disappear into the rainforest when it is released.

Two endangered cassowaries rescued by wildlife officers in far north Queensland were released back into the wild last week after being successfully rehabilitated.

Senior wildlife officer Dinouk Perera said many people dedicated many hours to care for the birds after they were rescued.

“The Department of Environment and Science would particularly like to thank Tropical Vet Services for providing vet treatment and Rainforest Reserves Australia which operates the Tablelands Cassowary Facility,” Mr Perera said.

“We’d also like to thank C4 – the Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation – who provide food and care for cassowaries held in the Queensland Government Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation facility.

“In April 2021, a cassowary chick displaying signs of illness was rescued by wildlife officers at Wongaling Beach.

“After the bird was assessed and treated by local vet, Dr Graham Lauridsen, attempts were made to reunite the chick with its parent, but unfortunately these were unsuccessful.

“We then took the cassowary to Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation facility for intense monitoring and care, and a couple of months later it was transferred to the Tablelands Cassowary facility.

“The Tablelands facility has a large, forested free-range enclosure that encouraged natural behaviours and reduced the likelihood of the bird becoming habituated to associating humans with food – before it was released at Hull Heads National Park as a healthy sub-adult bird.”

Mr Perera said a second cassowary chick with a neck injury was rescued by wildlife officers at Maria Creek in April 2022.

“The cassowary required surgery and remained in care of Tropical Vet Services before being moved to the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Facility.

“The bird remained at Garners Beach for seven months where it was closely monitored to ensure the injury was healing well and it was exhibiting natural behaviours.

“Last week, we took the sub-adult cassowary into the Clump Mountain National Park where it was released to take up its vital ecological role as a ‘rainforest gardener’ by eating rainforest fruits, including some that are poisonous to other animals.

“Our partnership with Rainforest Reserves Australia and the C4 group is helping to deliver the best possible rehabilitation of cassowaries in care and their successful release back into the wild.”

The southern cassowary is listed as endangered in the Wet Tropics region and with only an estimated 4400 cassowaries left in the wild, every cassowary is precious.

To report a cassowary sighting please call 1300 130 372. Your report will contribute to citizen science aimed at reducing the number of cassowaries killed on our roads.

Here is how you can help by being Cass-o-wary!!

  • Don’t approach cassowaries – they are very unpredictable.
  • Don’t approach chicks – the father will be nearby and may defend them fiercely.
  • Never feed cassowaries – it is against the law, potentially dangerous for people and has led to cassowary deaths.
  • Discard food scraps in closed bins in cassowary country and ensure compost bins have secure lids.
  • Slow down and be on the look-out when driving in southern cassowary territory.
  • Never stop your vehicle to look at southern cassowaries on the road.
  • Keep dogs behind fences or on a leash.
  • If you come face-to-face with an aggressive bird, it's important to have some simple strategies to protect yourself. It is best to back away slowly and put something like a tree, a backpack between yourself and the bird, and let it go on its way.

View photos and videos of the rehabilitated cassowaries being released back into the wild in the media centre.