Cassowaries doing well post-Yasi, but care continues

May 2012

Image of cassowary (Courtesy DEHP)

More than a year on from Cyclone Yasi and the number of feed stations needed to boost cassowaries' diets has halved, but some birds and chicks will still receive care throughout 2012.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection's Cassowary Response Team has run a feeding program since February 2011 to supplement cassowaries' diet after the cyclone wiped out the rainforest fruits that they eat.

At the program's peak, there were more than 105 feed stations set up within the cyclone-affected area in a broad strip from Innisfail to Cardwell.

As at May 2012, the number of stations had reduced to 55. The Department has been progressively removing stations no longer used by cassowaries and where natural fruit levels are adequate.

Each station site is monitored on an individual basis using information gathered from field observations, food uptake, bird numbers and behaviours, scat collections, remote camera data and native fruit observations.

While forests are showing strong signs of recovery, the significant damage caused by the cyclone has meant the supply of fruits on trees is still low overall and stations will continue to be needed for some months.

More than 165 tonnes of fruit has been delivered to the feed stations to-date and volunteers have provided 5,300 hours of valuable support work, mostly cutting up fruit and helping with site maintenance.

As the feeding program continues, seven birds orphaned after the cyclone are being cared for at the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Facility.

A majority of these birds will require long term care for the next 6-12 months until they are assessed as suitable for release back in the wild.

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