Next to nothing Lack of information about unappendiculatus Joan Bentrupperbaumer – C. c. johnsoni Cliff & Dawn Frith – C. c. johnsoni Crome & Moore – C. c. johnsoni Andy Mack – C. bennetti Helen Fortune Hopkins – C. bennetti
Physiology Ancestors flew Pneumatic bones Rudimentary wing No keeled sternum Three toes Palaeognathic pallet Casque
Feeding habits Mainly vegetarian Fruits, seeds, leaves and grasses Will pick through own droppings Varied and opportunistic feeder on live insects, crustacea, reptiles, small mammals and birds. Might eat carrion
Behaviour Very shy and often takes headlong flight. Can easily jump own height. Dangerous when cornered and when defending territory or young. Swims very well. Makes deep booming sound during mating display and when taking aggressive pose.
How dangerous are they? Cassowaries will not attack for no reason. But they can be territorial, very defensive of their young or be expecting food if people have been doing the wrong thing by feeding them and there is quite a list of people having been chased, charged, kicked, pushed, pecked, jumped on, and head-butted. Statistics show that most cassowary attacks were actually self defence, they are quite capable of killing dogs by gutting them with their sharp claws on their huge feet and have even been rumoured to have killed small horses.
Mossman - April 1926 Cassowaries are among the very few birds that can kill a person but the only time on record that happened was in April 1926 when some boys were hunting a Cassowary near Mossman, North Queensland. The Cassowary turned and chased the boys and one of them, 16 year old Phillip McClean, fell over and got his jugular vein on his neck slashed open by the sharp claw on the cassowary's foot. *Tales
Ecology No natural predators except man Rainforest habitat, but often ventures outside (in search of food?) Symbiosis: At least partly responsible for the maintenance of the forest through seed dispersal Range size varies according to time of year
Threats Habitat destruction and fragmentation Uncontrolled hunting Introduction of foreign species Road accidents and traps
Captive Cassowaries Historical breeding records Current captive population Huge bias towards unknown origin and Casuarius casuarius Breeding success minimal F2 exists but …….. Uncertain value for conservation purposes
Captive breeding experience April to September favoured months Each egg must be separately fertilised Eggs laid at two or three day intervals Clutch size of 3 – 4 eggs Incubation lasts 50 – 54 days Incubation at 36.1 C to 36.4 C Wet bulb 27.3 C – 28.9 C with 65% humidity Chicks hatch asynchronously Hatch rate is low
Conservation measures Queensland Papua New Guinea Indonesia Ex-situ programmes More inter-governmental action